Waves of Freedom is a voluntary-led collaborative platform exploring how surfing and the sea can be used as a creative medium for social good and connection across cultures. At the core of what we do is understanding the transformative impact of surfing and the sea, especially for women and girls and its potential to empower.
WoF was born from a realisation for the need to deepen our understanding of what we’d experienced with surfing’s ability connect in the most unexpected ways in an unlikely place, Iran, and the initiation of surfing through women. The turning point was sharing our passion for surf and the surfing experience with other like-minded young women in Iran in 2013, the first surfers in their country (as documented in Into the Sea).
What we do has expanded beyond Iran, although our collaboration with the fledgling surf community there is ongoing, to work with other people, institutes and organisations around the world - A growing ‘surf for social good’ tribe, including the Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea and their innovative approach to ending violence against women called the “Pink Nose Surfboard” initiative. Our experiences have inspired a shift in our own relationship with surfing and how it can be used as a vehicle for creating connection and addressing deeper social issues.
The Origins Story
The story began in 2010 when French filmmaker Marion Poizeau and Irish surfer Easkey Britton traveled to an unknown territory in the remote region of south-eastern Iran seeking new adventures and surf exploration. They were motivated to explore how they could surf and film in Iran, a country geopolitically misperceived by the West and if it would be possible for women to get to the water and go surf? Baluchistan, the poorest and remotest region in Iran is also the only region that offers any potential for surf, an area considered by many as one of the most dangerous in the world. With a mix of curiosity, apprehension, and uncertainty, Easkey with her surfboard and Marion with her camera bag filled with head-scarves, met in Tehran airport. This was the first time they met in person but both shared a passion for adventure and exploring the unknown. Almost immediately any worries they had were shattered. The Iranian people were the most welcoming they encountered on their many travels. Surfing, fully covered and wearing a hijab sparked curiosity locally, witnessing surfing for the first time by a woman. Marion made a short film of this first adventure: Easkey surfs in Iran.
The film made a big impact in international media with the short film going viral on the internet. The response was overwhelmingly positive both outside and within Iran. In August 2013, after connecting with other pioneering Iranian sportswomen who heard about their story, the two women decided to continue the adventure and return to Iran. This time with a project built around the objective: To share a passion for surfing in Iran and make it accessible to everyone, including women . They were joined by Mona Seraji, Iranian snowboard ambassador, and swimmer Shahla Yasini. This second trip had a real impact in the region. All three women shared the belief in the power of surfing as a tool for connection, self-empowerment and bridging barriers. This experience became the subject of Marion Poizeau’s feature documentary, ‘Into the Sea’, the story of the first surfers in Iran, a story shaped by women. Together they planted the seed for new opportunities and made history, becoming the first women to surf in Iran. It is the recognition of the power of surfing to transcend social, cultural and gender barriers that inspired Easkey and Marion to found the non-profit organisation, Waves of Freedom. This was just the beginning...