SUP Sprint Racing Women
Nourhan Refaat Taha
1st Eqyptian to participate in the ISA SUP World Championship.
Nourhan Refaat (Nour) is a woman Egyptian Stand up Paddler (SUP) dedicated to making a difference in a country where women face violence in their daily lives, including loss of life due to Gender-based violence (GBV). Gender-based violence is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. Just like her name, Nour shines a light on the value of access and inclusivity for all. Growing up in Cairo, Nour saw firsthand that educational, professional, and physical activities are limited or not accessible to women. This lack of access has ignited her dedication to focus on Empowerment and Education for women to increase gender equality in Egypt. After graduating from University with a Bachelor of Arts and Education, Nour worked for leading projects with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) such as "Save the Children," "The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)," and the American University in Cairo (AUC).
Although her work to empower Egyptian youth was meaningful, like many people, Covid-19 brought about a strenuous time in her life. However, instead of dwelling on the negative, Nour focused on her mental health and well-being by pursuing various water sports. When a friend introduced her to stand-up paddle boarding, she found an activity that brought her peace and freedom. Nour fully immersed herself in paddleboarding, paddling up and down the Nile, watching every paddler, and asking many questions to improve her technique. She borrowed equipment and explored put-ins, some with bathrooms and changing facilities, and some with none. She also began entering and winning every SUP race she could find on the Nile.
At this time, Nour started reflecting on the ideas of empowerment and participation that drove her. She realized that SUP could bring meaningful, inclusive community engagement critical to women's well-being. And this is the birth of Nour's dreams of creating a non-profit Paddleboard club in Egypt that ensures that women have access to equipment and instruction to enable them to participate safely and fully in the sport of SUP.
Nour is currently in San Francisco on a fellowship with the Community Solutions Program (CSP) sponsored by the United States State Department. CSP is a professional development program for the best and brightest global community leaders working on issues related to the environment, tolerance and conflict resolution, transparency and accountability, and women and gender. While in San Francisco, she is also training with Bay Area SUP race legends David Wells (101 Surf Sports), Jenn Fuller (Fuller Fitness), and Mike Wang (Mike’s Paddle) to be the first Eqyptian to race at the world level.