By Kiran Khan

Photo credits Kent Newman

Seven Muslim women from around the world are bicycling across Iowa as a way of "promoting female sports participation as a fundamental right.

Seven nations were represented by the team members - including Pakistani Olympican swimmer Kiran Khan, Saudi Arabian mountain climber Raha Moharrak, Iranian snowboarder and surfer Mona Seraji, Afghan football player Hajar Abulfazl, Jordanian global cyclist Amani Ammoura, Egyptian global cyclist Rehab Shawky and Pakistani-American Olympic weighlifter Kulsoom Abdullah.

Team Shirzanan was a unique blend of elite Muslim female athletes and Iowans who joined forces to promote female sports participation as a fundamental right by riding bicycles on the RAGBRAI route across the state of Iowa - covering 462 miles in seven days. We were unified in our belief that all girls and women deserve access to sport and its benefits.

The group convened in Des Moines prior to the RAGBRAI ride for a Sports, Media and Equality Panel Discussion that also included Iranian-American Traditional karate champion Soolmaz Abooali, Shirzanan co-founders Solmaz Sharif and Mara Gubuan and Shirzanan advisors Shannon Galpin and Minky Worden. Team Shirzanan members shared stories and perspectives about their development and triumphs over barriers to become empowered athletes.

Published in Young Nation on 12 Sep, 2015