This is Worth Your Time: Support the Afghan Women’s Cycling Team
Yes, you read that headline right. A women’s national cycling team is beginning to take shape in Afghanistan.
We talk a lot about inviting more women to join the cycling party. About empowering women to pedal and explore and race and just go for it. In so many ways this project in Afghanistan symbolizes, in a very profound way, the most important thing that the women-on-bikes movement can achieve: the end of oppression, the facilitation of freedom, a positive contribution to the progression of human rights.
It is culturally offensive for a woman to ride a bike in Afghanistan. Forget “feeling left out of the men’s peloton” or “getting shafted in the local bicycle shop”. The women who ride in Afghanistan do it at the risk of their own personal safety. They do it as a statement – a very literal statement – of freedom. And now, they propose to do it as sport. On behalf of their country. On borrowed gear and scraped together bikes.
I recently became a member of a group called Combat Apathy. It is, in founder Shannon Galpin’s words, “A battalion of passionate mothers, daughters, and sisters, that are willing to sacrifice time, money, and energy to be crusaders of gender equity and human rights.”
Galpin was the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan (2009) and then traveled back to Afghanistan in 2010 to ride across the Panjshir Valley, which was documented by Outside Magazine. She was also recognized for her work by National Geographic in November 2012 as one as their 2013 Adventurers of the Year.
Now Galpin, along with filmmaker Sarah Menzies, is planning to return one more time to Kabul to make a documentary about the development and progress of Afghanistan’s burgeoning women’s cycling team. As of today they’re nearly halfway to their initial $10,000 funding goal, which will allow them to kick this project off by covering travel costs, translator and fixer fees and initial filming costs.
For more information on the project please visit their Kickstarter page and consider making a donation to this important cause.
If ever there was a cause that embodies the Cyclofemme values of “pedaling for a positive social change” and “starting the revolution” (sign the pledge!), this is it. We must pedal our bikes, yes. And we must get others to pedal their bikes with us – but we must also stay vigilant and keep fighting for those who aren’t allowed to pedal bikes at all.
PS: Galpin has been collecting gear that she will take to the team. If you would like to donate gear, learn more about what is needed or inquire about other ways to help, please contact her using the contact information here.