The team led by Zahra Hussaini has been nominated for their dedication and hard-work to promote cycling in Afghanistan despite suffering from accusations of immorality and threats of violence for riding a bike.
At least 118 Italian MPs signed a petition to make the nomination of the team possible for the prize.
Leading a team of 40 cyclists, Zahra told Total Women’s Cycling that the women General Abdul Rahman Rahman’s appointment as Senior Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs was also confirmed by the Palace.
“People are watching us from behind our backs, it is horrifying” and another adds: “Some people believe women are meant only to stay at home, and all they can do is cook food and do housework,” said one of the cyclists.
She said “They say a bicycle can destroy a girl’s future. People say a lot of things. If we listened to them we would never leave our houses.”
The Kabul-based Afghan Women’s Cycling Team was originally formed in 1986, but was scuttled by Soviet and then Taliban rule. Even after the fall of Taliban rule in 2001, extreme cultural and religious conservatism remains strong outside of urban, intellectually forward clusters.
In a country where only a decade ago women were commanded to stay indoors and avoid spending time in public, women simply didn’t ride bikes. Many viewed it as obscene for a woman sit atop a bicycle seat. -KP