@NigaraShaheen (in the white Judogie) who is a member of the Women Leaders of Tomorrow and it’s women’s sports initiative competed at the #KazanGrandSlam yesterday. She fought like a champ! Afghan women are proud of her! #girlscan #AfgWomenCan #Judo #IJF #IOC
The #GOALinitiative has also coaching and mentorship program for the Judo athletes. This program is designed to meet each athletes’ need individually to prepare the best version of themselves, and to be in the best shape possible for the competitions. GOAL is honoured to have @EvaMinarikova from England to mentor the Afghan women’s Judo team. Thank you Eva! @NigaraShaheen is a thriving athlete! #GOAL#WomenLeadersofTomorrow#Judoforempowerment#Judoforgenderequality
This is true in the case of developing countries in particular in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a war torn country. It has suffered from the Soviet Union in early 1980s, later from the war by the Mujahadeen to defeat the Soviets, civil war throughout the 90s, and the Taliban in 1990s to present. It had no time to breath and recover. The entire populations were affected severely, and in particular, the women and the youth. Women weren’t able to practice sports due to the patriarchy, strict religious laws, and traditional society. However, the women and the youth always craved to practice sports; it brings joy and peace to their lives.
All the Afghan athletes want to promote peace, stability, and development in Afghanistan; Sports empower people to make their dreams come true.
Sports are receiving a positive response from Afghan society. Athletes are getting invited to the different local TV shows, channels and radio stations. Whenever they get a chance, they speak up to amplify their voices, and promote the message of peace and prosperity for the country. Athletes are playing a significant role of peacemakers in the society. They’re symbol of hope, and becoming role models for the younger generation.
The female athletes are promoting gender equality, and bringing visibility to women’s rights. They’re taking space in public spheres, and making marks as successful women.
Afghanistan is a perfect example of rigidly defined patriarchal gender roles. Women are seen as the caregivers for her family, and men are seen as the provider. Women and girls didn’t have an opportunity to participate in sports based on many combinations of the issues mentioned above. Despite the limited choices, poor security situation, outside and in side their homes, women and girls have managed to join different sports clubs, martial arts in particular.
All forms of martial arts became popular, because it is indoors sports, the uniform covers from head to toe, and it it perceived as respectful form of arts by the society, and the families.
There are Judo, Wushu, Tae kwan do, Karate, and many other martial arts centers in Afghanistan.
The sport of Judo is an excellent example of martial arts in Afghanistan. This sport was introduced by a German citizen who was training the Afghan national police in the late 80s, and only men’s team was able to practice at that time. Later, after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, a Norwegian diplomat to Afghanistan named Stig Traavik introduced Judo to Afghan women for the first time. Mr. Traavik is a six times national champion and competed in Judo at the 1992 in Barcelona. He is currently a Special Envoy for the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment.
When women were welcome to join the Judo sports, there were only three teenage girls in the entire country. There were many girls, but aged from 6 to 10 years old only.
It was a taboo for women and girls to join sports clubs then. If women did, they were treated as prostitutes, girls with loose morals and worse. But these three girls didn’t give up, nor they let the society’s misogynist let effect them; they continued. They participated and competed in local and international Judo tournaments.
Examples of Afghan girls making history in sports:
In 2004, Fahima Rezayee competed at juniors’ Judo tournament in India, and she struck a gold medal. This was her very first match, but she championed it. Her gold medal was pride for the entire nation. She is the first Afghan girl win a gold for Afghanistan in the sports of Judo. She later received a six months Judo scholarship by NPO Judos in Japan to study at Tokai University. She practiced very hard, day and night. She was also the first Afghan girl to receive that fully funded scholarship, and to receive her black belt recognition from the Kodokan.
Kodokan is the center of the Judo in the world. It is the Mecca of Judo. The Kodokan Judo Institute, or Kōdōkan, is the headquarters of the worldwide judo community. The Kōdōkan was founded in 1882 by Kanō Jigorō, the founder of judo, and now operates a world-class training facility and dormitory at an eight-story building in Tokyo.
Nigara Shaheen is an Afghan Judo athlete currently living and studying in Russia. She is obtaining her Masters’ degree. She is an IJF (International Judo Federation) athlete, who competes internationally. She has participated at the 2013 Asian Games in Hong Kong. Her latest competition was at the Grand Slam in Dusseldorf Germany in February 2020. She was selected to participate in the two other Grand Slams, in Ekaterinburg in Russia in March 2020, and in Hungary in October 2020, unfortunately, she was unable to participate due to COVID 19.
Parwin Askari, she recently represented Afghanistan in the sport of Judo in the Grand Slam in Tashkent Uzbekistan. This was her first ever tournament. Her original weight category is -57kg, but she competed in -63 against a Judo athlete from England. Although this was one weight category up her weight, she fearlessly faced her opponent and finished the match.
Now, there are more than one hundred girls, who are currently enrolled and are practicing. The Afghan women’s Judo team is strong; they are tough and they don’t take no for an answer. However, they’re not immune to the violence against women. On multiple occasions, the Afghan female Judo athletes have expressed that their brothers, male relatives, and neighbors are against their Judo sport, that they have been receiving death threats.
Fatima, one of the girls from the Judo team, whose name has been changed due to security reasons, has mentioned once that “it feels good not to be beaten in three days in a row”. She also expressed that “it feels good and weird not to be abused in a few days in a row”. Fatima’s brothers physically abuse her for attending the Judo classes, and they want to genuinely stop her, but she is not giving up.
Maryam, a second girl from the team, and whose name has also been changed to protect her, showed me a picture of her right arm that was burned. Her brother throw a thermos of hot water (which is used for hot tea) at her for taking leadership to choose her own life. She wants to become a world Judo champion. But her brothers are against that. Maryam missed many Judo classes due to this injury, however, she still showed up at the Judo mat before she properly healed from the burn.
Fatima is a beautician, a midwife, she is currently studying sports science at Kabul university, and she is a Judo athlete, but she is facing gender discrimination on a daily basis.
Fatima and Maryam have been gaining more respect at home after their determination to the sports, and making an identity for themselves. Women and girls are seen as secondary citizens, but the Judo athletes are challenging that want to be respected as men.
The difference between the two genders is not a ‘gap’ in Afghanistan, it is an ocean.
About the author: Friba Rezayee is the founder and the Executive Director of Women Leaders of Tomorrow and its leadership in sports project GOAL (Girls of Afghanistan Lead). She was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. At the age of 18, she made history by competing in Judo at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens as Afghanistan’s first ever female Olympic athlete.
Friba’s participation in the Olympics brought Afghanistan back to the world stage in sports after the fall of the Taliban. She inspired hundreds of other Afghan girls to join different sports, in a sports revolution for Afghan female athletes.
She has been an outspoken and passionate advocate for women and girls’ access to sports and education in Afghanistan from an early age.
@Roya Dawlat Shahi, a member and an active Judo athlete from the GOAL initiative has represented Afghan women’s Judo team at #KhorsheedTV station in Afghanistan. She talks about how Afghan women are taking spaces in the society and how that they thrive. Prior to join the GOAL team, she practiced Free Fight and she was the only and first girl to choose that path. We are proud of her – she is becoming an icon for women and girls. رهبری دختران افغانستان – راد!Link to her interview is below: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UxgI8q0Dlm4&feature=share
Afghan women’s Judo team was invited at the Ministry of Women’ Affair to be supported, and their bravery to be recognized for bringing visibility to women’s rights and gender equality. Women Leaders of Tomorrow is proud of single one of them. In girls we trust! @ZakiraHossaini @ParwinAskari @Qudsia @FawziaMohammadi @SalmaAhmadi #Angela and many more. You’re are our pride!
This March on #WomensHistoryMonth Afghan women’s Judo team would like to thank @Dr. Lisa Allen from #IJF for her tireless work and support for Afghanistan’s team. Your hard work to make an equal world for everyone doesn’t go unnoticed. You inspire many young women in the world to follow your footsteps as woman leader and the Commissioner of Gender Equality #GOAL رهبری دختران افغانستان – ردا
The Afghan national Olympic committee celebrated international women’ day on March 8th. Zakira Hossaini represented Afghan women’s Judo team. She has also a message for #IWD2021. The #GOAL initiative is very proud of her bravary for speaking about her rights. We stand with you Zakira! You’re the pride of Afghan women and Afghanistan! رهبری دختران افغانستان – ردا!Link: https://youtu.be/sDJQCMQ4UDU
Thank you everyone for participating at Yoga from Afghanistan live session from Fakhria Momtaz. Also, a special thanks to our second guest speaker Mahnaz Aliyar for giving information and educating us about the situation of Afghan girls’ education in Afghanistan. Women Leaders of Tomorrow was very proud and honoured to have you on #IWD2021Afg. “The power of women working together” WLT wishes you a happy International Women’s Day and women’s history month! رهبری دختران افغانستان- ردا!
We are very proud of Parwin Askari for competing at #JudoGrandSlam in #Tashkent on March 6. Just in time for #IWD. She is a member of #GOAL initiative. Judo helps empower Afghan girls to compete at the international arena! If you would like to learn more about our work, join us at our IWD online event at 4:30pm PST. Link to join: https://meet.google.com/vuq-nxty-yps#GOAL – GirlsofAfghanistanLead رهبری دختران افغانستان – ردا!
Cheer for the Afghan team member Parwin Askari. She is competing at the upcoming IJF Judo tournament in Tashkent Uzbekistan in March 6th!!!We work hard, we succeed and we lead! #GirlsofAfghanistanLead Thank you Ms. Miyajima from ‘Cultivator’ to make this mission possible!If you want to learn more about us, come and join us for a distinct experience from Afghanistan for international women’s day on March 7th! Link for the Google Meet: https://meet.google.com/vuq-nxty-ypsPlease send your questions and inquiries to email@example.com رهبری دختران افغانستان – ردا!
The Afghan girls Judo team is giving a big shout-out to the #Lululemon company for donating women’s sports wear for them. Thank you #Lululemon for your generous donations and supporting the #AfghanWomensJudoteam from the beginning the #GOAL program in 2019!Their message says ‘We are very thankful for Lululemon for supporting Afghan girls’ Judo team’The products have arrived safely in Afghanistan and has been distributed among the girls. They’re very happy. They can train with confidence now! Thank you from Afghanistan! #GirlsofAfghaniatanLead رهبری دختران افغانستان – راد!アフガニスタンの女子柔道チームは、女性のスポーツウェアを寄付してくれた#Lululemon社に大声で叫んでいます。寛大な寄付と2019年の#GOALプログラムの最初から#AfghanWomensJudoteamをサポートしてくれた#Lululemonに感謝します！彼らのメッセージには、「アフガニスタンの女の子の柔道チームをサポートしてくれたLululemonにとても感謝しています」と書かれています。製品は無事にアフガニスタンに到着し、女の子たちに配布されました。彼らはとても幸せです。彼らは今自信を持って訓練することができます！アフガニスタンからありがとう！ #GirlsofAfghaniatanLead
Dear folks, Women Leaders of Tomorrow’s sub-project the #GOAL initiative which stands for Girls of Afghanistan Lead along with my story will be aired on #AsahiTV in Japan on Sunday. Please stay tuned! Judo sports has been indeed empowering and leading! #GOAL #GirlsofAfghanistanLead #Judo #NPOJudos #womenssports