Afghanistan’s National Women’s Cycling Team has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by members of the Italian parliament. The team has used the bicycle as a vehicle for social justice, enduring violence and social stigma. In 2013, it became the first Afghan women’s team to compete on the international stage, at the Asian Cycling Championships in Delhi.
Afghanistan had a women’s team as early as 1986, but that program was scuttled during Soviet and subsequent Taliban control of the country. It was reborn in 2011 when Abdul Sediq, coach of the Afghan men’s national team, founded a team around his daughter, Marjan “Mariam” Sedequi. The team now has about a dozen women, who ride in pants, loose-fitting shirts, and hijabs beneath helmets to avoid attracting additional unwanted attention.
As these women bring national pride to themselves and to a war-torn country, they are opening the door to allow girls to ride bicycles for transportation.
Did You Know?
- The New Year in Afghanistan, called Nawroz, is celebrated on 21 March which is the first day of spring.
- The largest city in Afghanistan is Kabul, the capital.
- Afghanistan is a landlocked country sharing borders with Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and China.
- The official language of Afghanistan is Dari and Pashto. They speak several other languages as well such as Persian, Uzbek and Turkmen to name a few.