Women’s presence within the sporting arena has unfortunately been a rare sighting both in their participation and in their assumed lack of interest. Traditionally considered a sphere socially reserved for men, male athletes and fans dominate the screens and stadiums placing women’s sport in a sub-standard category, often stereotypically characterised for its incompetency.
With the Women’s World Cup Finals now among us, a faint yet uplifting buzz can be sensed in the creeping appreciation and recognition of the value of women’s football. Women’s increased participation in such a renowned sport not only highlights the skills and passions of women away from conventional moulds, but it encourages and promotes an environment where men and women can engage in the same activities without exclusion and eventually, in equality.
One country that has particularly shaken up attitudes and sparked discussions of the associations made between women and sport, is Iran.
Women’s rights in Iran have long been a source of political contention within the Islamic regime of the country. Considered the symbolic upholders of national identity and traditionalist values, the position of women has always been charged with a religious and nationalist ideology, susceptible to change given the political context.
Despite the restrictive conditions that make for a difficult environment for women’s expression, a prolific women’s movement flourishes in Iran. Challenging existing political structures as well as working within the conservative Islamic framework to exercise these, women have created new spaces that allow for alternative forms of expression. The recent controversies around FIFA’s banning of the Iranian women’s team from the Olympics due to their religious yet legally required headwear have further highlighted the tensions between politically motivated interpretations of religion and women’s access to rights and privileges. These are the conditions Iranian women footballers are faced with constantly.
Women’s football in Iran not only challenges stifling stereotypes outside the country but it is a practice that speaks volumes in its demonstration of women’s abilities away from traditional duties and roles, offering an understated and subversive platform for women to assert their political presence in Iran.
One World Action are calling for nominations of women who you think have influenced and had a prominent impact on how women are perceived in sports. Whether they are sportswomen, campaigners or photographers, we want to hear about them!
You can nominate women by email to email@example.com, by post to One World Action, Bradley’s Close, 74-77 White Lion St, London N1 9PF, or by leaving a comment to this post. Please provide a short paragraph letting us know how your nominated woman has demonstrated strong leadership, and how they have created positive social change in the world.
To see the women nominated so far for our list of One Hundred Unseen Powerful Women who Change the World please visit: https://oneworldaction.wordpress.com/100-unseen-powerful-women/