Sepideh Yadegar

As a young girl growing up in Iran - where the idea of gender equality is equated with the end of civilizations - I always struggled to find a means to express my emotions, to tell my story. Every place I sought for proof that females too could find their creative outlets, I instead found punishment and strife. I envied the lives of my male counterparts - a shimmer in their eyes betrayed the pleasant knowledge that they, at least, could fulfill their destinies. In the summer of 2010, I was finally driven to reject the predetermined role my society sought to weigh me down with; after protesting for women’s rights, I was forced to leave my homeland.

When I arrived in Canada, I was elated with my newfound ability to express myself. Free speech first gave birth to the most simple form of self-expression: I took to social media to educate my fellow Canadians about the injustices done to my peers in the Middle East. I at first sought to find my voice quite literally by speaking on the radio. I joined a radio station called Pazhvak where besides speaking about my personal experiences, I helped to create a larger narrative about life under a radically religious government. Still, something was missing, and I didn’t know what it was until I watched a close friend of mine turn a five-year struggle for funding into a wildly successful campaign through a single amateur film. The same people who had merely liked and commented on his work previously were now the ambassadors of his story, all thanks to the combination of beautiful imagery and a gripping narrative. I knew instantly that this was my outlet.

Works showcased at MENA: