Iranian woman skydiver looks to break down stereotypes

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(AFP) – For Iranian parachuting enthusiast Bahareh Sassani, skydiving is “a way to prove that women are just as capable as men” – a small step from a big height for women’s equality in her country.

The 35-year-old accountant has been skydiving less than two years but already has more than 220 jumps under her belt.

“I encourage all women to try this experience. It gives you the feeling you can do whatever you want. Women should not be excluded from anything,” she said.

Sassani – one of just a handful of female skydivers in her deeply conservative homeland – refuses to describe herself as a “feminist”.

But her motto is firmly “there is no difference between men and women and a woman can do anything she wants and succeed”.

That still runs against the grain of Iranian society, where women have had a lower legal status than men since the Islamic revolution of 1979 even if they have battled to stay equal in daily life.

Her favourite pastime is still very much the preserve of men in Iran – made more complicated by the fact there is no parachuting club so she must do it with the army.

“When they organise jumps, the army invites everyone, including civilians,” she explained.

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