Foreign Policy Blogs

Girls On Board

Girls On Board
With August coming to a close here’s something short and inspiring to remind us that unconventional approaches make a difference. Skateboards and Afghanistan sound like an unlikely combination but reality is proving otherwise.

Skateistan is an international non-profit charity providing skateboarding and educational programming in Afghanistan (as well as Cambodia and Pakistan). It was set up in 2009 by Oliver Percovich, with the current facilities in Kabul built on land donated by the Afghan National Olympic Committee with the consent and support of the local community.

As their website notes, “Many popular Afghan sports — football, volleyball, buzkashi, kite-flying, and bodybuilding — are seen as male activities, and females are almost always excluded from participating in them. Afghan culture does not even allow women to ride bicycles. Thankfully, Afghans largely consider skateboarding a suitable activity for girls: Skateistan has a large number of enthusiastic young women attending skateboard lessons.”

A piece on Al Jazeera quotes 13-year-old Zurhana: “”It’s hard to be a girl in Afghanistan, most people think that girls should be in their homes, just cooking, working at home. Skateistan is a really great opportunity for us,” she says.”

I tried to learn to skateboard one summer, wobbling down an alley on a creaky deck – and really not getting very far. What these girls have achieved is incredible and should not be underestimated.

If you want to find out more about how to support this awesome project, click here.

You can follow @Skateistan on Twitter.



Cate Mackenzie

Cate works as an editor in Zürich, Switzerland. She holds an MA in Comparative and International Studies from ETH Zurich, and a BA (Hons) in International Studies with Political Science from the University of Birmingham (UK).

She has previously lived and worked in Fiji and the US.