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This Trailblazing Female Biker Is Destroying Social Norms And Making History For Women In Iran

Shafiei has won a concession to stage the country's first ever all-female race, despite women being barred from motorbike riding by modesty laws.

We love a good story about badass women making history, and this one is super inspiring. Behnaz Shafiei is a motorcycle racer from Iran, a country that does not allow women to ride motorbikes or take part in the sport professionally, who is using her talent to fight for women’s rights in the country.

Being a female motorcycle rider in Iran is not just frowned up, it’s actually illegal through the country’s modesty laws and women must not be seen riding bikes in the street. Currently, women have permission to ride on off-road circuits, but are prohibited from competing or getting official licenses.

Through women like Shafiei however, attitudes within the sport appear to be turning. The 27-year-old, along with five other women, has just succeeded in a campaign to stage the country’s first ever all-female race.

Shafiei first discovered her passion for riding on holiday at age fifteen, when she saw a group of women riding bikes in the back country. It opened her mind to the possibilities of what women were actually capable of doing. She asked for a go and was hooked from that moment on.

On returning home, Shafiei continued to ride and started taking her brother’s bike out on to country roads. When she decided to start riding on the major roads and in cities, she dressed up from head to toe in cycling leathers, to hide her gender from onlookers.

“My goal is to be a pioneer for other women.” Behnaz said in an interview with a local Iranian publication. “Together, we can convince the authorities to recognize female motorcycle racing.”

The fact that this first race was granted does show a shift in the attitudes of Iran’s sports ministry towards women competing in professional motorcycle racing, but the work of Shafiei and others like her is far from over.

“The fact that this race will be held shows that women’s rights have been respected and we have achieved our demands” says Shafiei.

“Not at a very high level yet, but at least we’re doing something, and this is just the beginning.”

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