Behnaz Shafiei has pushed boundaries and gone where no Iranian woman has ever gone before – she is the first female road racer in Iran and first champion motorcyclist in Iran.
Behnaz Shafiei, is a 27 year old Iranian motocross rider who has been boldly defying laws and conventions against female motorcyclists for 16 years. In a country where conservatives denounce the idea of women attending men’s sporting events, Behnaz is making provocative moves. Inspired by the Women’s International Motorcycle Association – who paved the way for the UK to have over 500,000 women holding motorcycle licenses – Behnaz is only one of six women in Iran who have access to amateur tracks outside of the country’s motorcycle federation. She is a true inspiration of courage and determination.
Behnaz was born and raised in Karaj, near Tehran and first got on a bike when she was 15. She immediately loved it. She received professional training and had the support of her brother and mother, but it took her a while to own her first bike. However, when she did, she used to ride it late in the night dressed up as a boy – she did that for about ten years while going to school.
“I’m persistent and I pursue the things I love, so I pursued it….and finally I succeeded.”
In 2015 and 2016, she trained over 100 women to drive in the dusty mountain backroads of the desert terrain in Iran. When the Sports Ministry in Iran said it is not a sport for women, she trained and increased the number of female riders. Tons of letters were written and visits to the ministry were made until, they finally approved.
In February 2017, Behnaz was finally able to influence Iran’s national sports ministry to conduct the country’s first female-only race.