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Sepideh - Reaching for the Stars

Sepideh is a young Iranian woman who dares to dream—of a future as an astronaut. At night, she stares up at the universe. At home, full of hope and longing, she watches recordings of the first female Iranian in space, Anousheh Ansari. When her father died suddenly six years earlier, Sepideh discovered that she could feel closer to him by watching the stars. And so her dream was born. But not everyone appreciates her boundless ambition. After all, becoming an astronaut is not exactly a normal goal for a girl in Iran. Her mother and uncle are worried about the emancipated young woman. She doesn't want to learn to cook, hardly ever visits her family, and doesn't seem to be thinking about marriage at all. As we follow Sepideh, it becomes clear just how at odds her dreams are with her current reality and the expectations of those around her.

Women and girls in Iran face discrimination in many areas of their lives, both in practice and law. Human Rights Watch has documented regressive policies that have been administered in recent years that have led to a rollback on women's rights, including gender-based policies in universities that disproportionately affect women. The Science Ministry had spearheaded longstanding plans to "Islamicize" universities and institute programs that restrict the role of young women in universities and their access to education. The ministry called for gender segregation in classes and campuses and for majors to be "single-gendered," meaning that only males or females will be permitted to study that subject.

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