Behnaz Shafiei is a 29-year-old Iranian motocross trailblazer who has been challenging gender norms since refusing to submit to an arranged marriage at age 16.
She uses her sport to advance women’s rights – including the right for a woman to ride a motorbike on public streets in Iran, where it’s currently banned. Her vision is to develop an Iranian women’s team and has single-handedly trained 117 women and teenage girls in the past year.
Shafiei has been riding motorbikes since age 15, disguised as a boy and practicing after dark between 9 pm and 3 am to avoid revolutionary guards. “Remember that American women fought for nearly 100 years before they were allowed the vote in 1920,” she says. “Since then, America has only inched closer to gender equality in business, politics, the arts and sports.”