An Afghan female cycling team has just been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Here’s why
MANY CYCLERS STRUGGLE WITH ISSUES such as wanting a newer bike, with having few riding buddies that don’t show up consistently, or with drivers disrespecting bike lane rules. But in Afghanistan the National Women’s Cycling Team have to deal daily with accusations of immorality and serious threats of violence. These inspiring women have been fighting some pretty harsh stereotypes for years to stand up for their freedom to ride. For that, they’ve been nominated for a 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.
Rather than being deterred by threats and street harassment, Zahra Hussaini, fearless leader of the women’s 40-strong cycling team, chooses to see these issues as nothing more than challenges to overcome. “We have an expression — ‘if you sit, and I sit, others will sit. If you stand, and I stand, others will stand.’”
In a trailer for a documentary about the team, one of the riders comments: “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. We’re told: “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”.
We have 118 Italian MPs to thank for signing a petition to have the Afghan Women’s Cycling Team included in 2016’s nominations. They see their movement as an authentic battle of freedom in a war-ravaged country and an incredibly powerful street-level step forward for women’s rights.