In August at the world track and field championships in Paris, Lima Azimi became the first Afghan woman to participate in a major international sports event, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations. Afghanistan – previously banned from the Olympics by the International Olympic Committee and the international track federation in 1999 – was reinstated soon after the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001. Azimi, an English and literature major attending college in Kabul, began her training three months ago after Afghan officials sought her entry at the event. Appearing for the first time wearing a t-shirt and track pants in public, Azimi finished the 100-meter race in last place with a finish time of 18.37 seconds. “The time didn’t matter… My participation was more important,” she said according to the New York Times.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, women continue to face widespread discrimination and oppression. Despite some women and girls returning to school, progress remains slow, due to the lack of funding and security, especially in areas beyond Kabul.
The Feminist Majority is leading the call for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.