People of Georgian: Alumna champions freedom for Iran

What’s your story?

The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Saghar Nabavi

When I was 10 years old, I went to a pool to learn how to swim for the first time because in my city in Iran there were no swimming pools for women.

Gradually, they started to have a swimming pool for women. It was the same one that the men were using, but the hours were separated. So, at the time we were using it, they were not allowed to be there.

Two adults and two children smile together outside.
Saghar, second from right, with her husband, Payam, and daughters, Diba and Golsa.

‘Not very easy to be a woman in Iran’

Soon after that, I became very good at swimming and was selected to be on a team.

After being in several competitions, I was chosen to be on a bigger team, then a bigger team, then a bigger team… I became a very, very good swimmer, and I was very successful in that.

I always competed within Iran. Women couldn’t compete outside of the country because of the Islamic rules that we had.

I remember I always wanted my dad and my brothers to be present at my competitions, but men weren’t allowed to be there. It was just a dream that never came true.

Iran is a really beautiful country, but it’s not very easy to be a woman in Iran.

I remember the day Mahsa Amini died.

She was a 22-year-old woman who was arrested in Tehran by morality police, accused of violating a law requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab.

She died in their custody, amidst allegations of violence by the Islamic Republic of Iran. This sparked outrage and protests around the world.

When this happened, I was in Canada working from home, and I really couldn’t concentrate after hearing the news.

I didn’t want to take the day off because I really wanted to do something else to distract myself, but I really couldn’t concentrate and barely could remember my name.

I was feeling so useless and so bad that things were happening, and I could not do anything. It shouldn’t be like that.

An adult sits on a stool with two children on their lap and reads a book to them. One of the kids looks up at the camera.
Saghar reads to her daughters. She says it’s difficult to be a woman in Iran.

Leading a ‘double life’ between Iran and Canada

This is the most challenging part of my life right now. It is very hard for me to read about the violence going on in Iran today and function normally here.

To do all my daily duties while I’m bleeding from the inside and invisibly.

To live outside of Iran, it’s like you must have a double life in order to function.

It’s very hard when I see my Iranian sisters and brothers get shot. I feel the bullet in my heart.

There are many problems in Iran: economical, educational, cultural, environmental… Everything that you can think of has been ruined by the Islamic Republic.

But if you ever visited Iran, you would be in love with the country and with the people and with the art and the food.

Two adults stand against a fence that blocks access to woods and a waterfall in the background.
Saghar and her husband, Payam, moved together from Iran, to Switzerland, to Canada.

Iran a beautiful country rich in culture

Iran is a big country – well, not compared to Canada, but it’s a big country – so we have a little bit of everything. We have mountains, deserts, jungles, sea…

There are beautiful, rich cultures in Iran. The people are very kind. They deserve freedom.

Everyone is supposed to have a free life.

I just want to encourage people to hear their voice, to be their voice, and to do whatever they can to help improve their current situation.

I hope that good days are coming, hopefully sooner than later.

Let’s see what the future has in hand.

Saghar Nabavi, alumna from Georgian’s Business program.

Get support

If you’re feeling the weight of what’s happening in Iran and need support, please let us help. Students: Access free counselling and supports by emailing Employees: Please contact Employee and Family Assistance Program by calling 1.844.880.9142 or visit the website.

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