NON-STOP MEDIA INC wrote -
Shirzanan is an advocacy and media platform working to improve access to sports and its benefits for Muslim girls and women around the world.
Within five days (August 14-18) Shirzanan had three op-eds published by The New York Times and CNN! Click on their names Kulsoom Abdullah (Sports should allow Muslim females who choose to compete covered), Raha Moharrak (Everest is not the only mountain I have climbed) and Solmaz Sharif (Iranian women should not face arrest and threats for watching volleyball) for links to the pieces.
Shirzanan is pronounced SHEER'zah-non, means "female heroes" in Persian, and aptly describes Muslim female athletes---such as Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and our "Athlete Ambassadors"---who excel at sports and use sports to empower girls and women in their communities.
WE NEED YOUR HELP TO COVER TRAVEL AND TRAINING EXPENSES OF THESE TRAILBLAZING CHANGE-MAKERS---OUR SHIRZANAN ATHLETE AMBASSADORS!
In the year since our Team Shirzanan bicycle #RideForRights, Shirzanan has elevated representation of talented Muslim athletes who boldly speak up and step forward to advance gender equality, catalyze social change and reform institutions who control access to sports.
- Through an interview with The New York Times,
- Presentation at the United Nations,
- Meeting with the International Olympic Committee,
- Conference convened by the White House,
- Stories on Chime For Change, and
- Original articles on our website...
Shirzanan is earning our place as the source for and about Muslim female athletes.
As a nonprofit relying on grants and donations to sustain our work, we would sincerely appreciate your support.
WHO ARE OUR AWESOME ATHLETE AMBASSADORS?
- Raha Moharrak - the first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest! With no sports infrastructure available to women in her country, she taught herself to climb mountains by watching YouTube videos and developing inventive training exercises---including being driven to the middle of the desert, filling a backpack full of sand and building endurance by running up and down hills for hours at a time.
Raha advocates for health through sports. Shirzanan supports Raha by sharing our network and expertise, including introductions to board advisor Minky Worden, the New York Times, United Nations and the International Olympic Committee to promote sport development in Saudi Arabia where physical education classes are not offered to the 4 million girls in public schools. CNN published her op-ed on August 18.
To join Team Shirzanan, Raha learned to ride a bicycle at the age of 29. Bicycling in Saudi Arabia was not permitted for girls/women until 2013---and only for recreational purposes, in designated areas, while fully covered, and with a male relative nearby.
- WATCH Kiran Khan - a Pakistani Olympic swimmer who began her career at age 10---and was dubbed the Golden Girl (for all the gold medals she won). Kiran cut her hair and pretended to be a boy for four years in order to train in the public pools from which girls were barred. She now owns and operates her own swimming academy. Shirzanan supports Kiran by improving visibility of she and other Pakistani sportswomen through media including Chime for Change.
- WATCH Hajar Abulfazil- an Afghan soccer player who intends to build a female-only sports complex and hospital in Kabul. Of 600 youth delegates at the United Nations Winter Assembly, Shirzanan helped Hajar to develop a proposal that reached the final 9 in the social change competition. Currently, the only indoor sports facility is shared by the men's and women's national teams; during the six days per week that it is open, women are only allowed 4 hours of access.
- WATCH Mona Seraji- an Iranian snowboarding and surfing pioneer determined to provide the next generation of female snowboarders with hope and proper coaching not available when she was starting out. Mona earned her coaching certification eight years ago and endeavors to train an Iranian girl to Olympic-grade status. Shirzanan supports Mona by developing her coaching skills and a fund to cover the training expenses of promising athletes.
- WATCH Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir - a Muslim-American basketball scoring champion whose professional creer is on hold due to the international basketball association's ban on hijab---claiming it's an injury risk. She and 14 other players from around the world are fighting the ban. Shirzanan supports Bilqis by disseminating her story and petition---and by introducing her to decision-makers in sports governing bodies.
- Kulsoom Abdullah - a Pakistani-American Olympic weightlifter whose historic efforts led to the International Weightlifting Federation's modified uniform regulations allowing women to cover in accordance with their Muslim faith. She paved the way for this Egyptian Olympian. Shirzanan supports Kulsoom by raising awareness in media, including this op-ed published by The New York Times on August 14!
- WATCH Soolmaz Abooali - an Iranian-American former refugee, scholar, athlete and 11-time Traditional karate champion using sport for conflict resolution. Shirzanan supports Soolmaz by publishing her opinion pieces and connecting her with stakeholders working in sports for development and peace.
- WATCH Amani Ammoura - a Jordanian cyclist and member of the Global Biking Initiative who raise money for charities. Amani led five male Team Shirzanan-Jordan members from Vienna to Berlin promoting females in sport. Shirzanan supports Amani in developing a plan for the first women's cycling club in Amman.
- WATCH Solmaz Sharif, an Iranian-American who founded the first Shirzanan online magazine about Iranian sportswomen. Solmaz made this video in support of the #Watch4Women campaign pushing for access to sports as a spectator. In Iran, women are banned from entering stadiums to watch men's national football and volleyball matches. The New York Times published her op-ed on August 16!
WHY IS OUR WORK IMPORTANT?
Many barriers to Muslim girls and women playing sport for health and fun are also experienced by women of all backgrounds—and is why Title IX in the U.S. was such a game-changer. However, government policies, misinformation and cultural and religious expectations of women from the South Asian, Middle Eastern, and African communities can create additional barriers--- including at a young age when sport becomes a lifetime practice.
Muslim girls and women are underrepresented in many sports bodies and competitions; Shirzanan Ambassadors and Staff are working to increase that representation!
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? Everyone deserves access to sports. Imagine your life without sports. Imagine the skills and opportunities that you may not have developed. Imagine a scholarship and education you may not have received. Or, imagine the camaraderie and joy you may not have enjoyed. We know that sport is linked to everything---from health to education, friendships, economic empowerment and gender equality.
We're riding a wave of interest in Muslim female athletes---prompted by the Team Shirzanan #RideForRights and bolstered by Ibtihaj Muhammad's history-making Olympic appearance in Rio!
We need your help to bring our Ambassadors back to America this Fall for meetings and conferences in support of the Shirzanan mission---and to Jordan for a journalism workshop in partnership with Chime For Change's Managing Editor Mariane Pearl during the FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup in October.
Your donation will support the initiatives of our Ambassadors and other Muslim female athletes who are forging paths for themselves and generations to follow.
Please help us:
- to promote the Athlete Ambassadors as role models through stories and images, to challenge stereotypes exacerbated by mainstream media, and to develop cross-cultural understanding;
- to strengthen their advocacy skills through leadership and communications training sessions; and
- to mentor and share professional contacts who can support their sports empowerment efforts.
Your donations will specifically cover:
- travel to and within America---as presenters and attendees of sports and human rights events where they may promote themselves as pioneers, their work and the Shirzanan mission;
- travel to Amman, Jordan---as subjects for a journalism and digital storytelling workshop led by Chime For Change Managing Editor Mariane Pearl;
- advocacy training workshops in leadership and communications, including digital, media and English language; and
- and promotional videos for each Ambassador.
Visit our ADVOCACY page to see the people and places where we have promoted our mission, including
- the White House State of Women Summit
- the United Nations
- Meredith Corporation in Iowa
- Human RIghts Watch and
- the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy!
FIVE of our Ambassadors were featured in this article by Mic.com:
Meet the Athletes Shattering Stereotypes About Muslim Women in Sports
HOW DID THESE WORLD-CLASS WOMEN MUSLIM ATHLETES BECOME SHIRZANAN ATHLETE AMBASSADORS?
Shirzanan hosted an epic cross-cultural exchange that united Muslim athletes and native Iowans from the 7 nations of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt and America on a 7-day, 462-mile bicycle #RideForRights across Iowa (known as RAGBRAI).
Team Shirzanan promoted female sports participation as a human right leading to gender equality---and received widespread media coverage.
READ background on how Team Shirzanan originated with childhood friends from Iowa who decided to celebrate their milestone 50th birthday with a physically-challenging and socially-meaningful endeavour...and a great piece by The Des Moines Register's Rekha Basu who covered our unprecedented Sports, Media and Equality panel discussion at Drake University.
UPCOMING FOR SHIRZANAN
A journalism training workshop led by Chime For Change managing editor Mariane Pearl reporting on women's issues and female athletes with cultural sensitivity towards Muslims and sexist language. To be held this October in Amman, Jordan, during the FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup.