On Saturday, 20 September, cyclists took to the streets to fundraise for the Afghan Women National Cycling team. The 100-mile bike ride began on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and was organized by the New York Cycling Club (“Escape New York”). H.E. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Lichtenstein to the United Nations, participated in the event.
The Women’s National Cycling team of Afghanistan has 10 members between the ages of 17 and 22 aiming to ride to the 2020 Olympics. Overcoming stigma and allegations that riding bicycles is “un-Islamic”, members of the team find freedom and self-determination through their biking group. Shannon Galpin, an activist working in Afghanistan to promote women’s rights since 2006 who has made a film about the women cyclists, argues the team is indicative of changing social mores for Afghan women who came of age in the post-Taliban era. “Young women who are in university and high school, young women who are educated, their families have promoted that and helped that happen,” she said. “These young women look at it very cut and dry: ‘My brother can ride a bike, why can’t I?’ They’re cognizant that they have this right.”