A delegation of 48 Afghan women athletes traveled to Iran this week to participate in the Third Muslim Women Games, an international sporting event. For many, their participation was symbolic of their struggle against the Taliban. “I’m competing here to denounce the Taliban’s uncivilized treatment of women in the name of Islam,” said Salma Hosseini, originally from Taliban-controlled Kandahar. Hosseini spent months traveling over abandoned roads and mountains to reach Tehran, Iran, where the competition took place, to win a silver medal in tae kwan doe.
Nasrin Arbabzadeh headed the Afghan athletic delegation, organized by the Women’s Movement of Afghanistan and backed by the Northern Alliance. Arbabzadeh spent months seeking female athletes to participate; many of the delegates now fear returning to Afghanistan. They competed in badminton, volleyball, shooting, tennis, running, chess, and tae kwan doe, all in an effort to promote the right of Afghan women to live in freedom and dignity. Opening ceremonies Wednesday night included a blackout in honor of Afghan women’s fight for equality. Some athletes from other Islamic nations dressed in black mourning clothing and carried candles as a sign of solidarity with Afghan women.
To learn more about the Feminist Majority’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan and find out how you can get involved, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.