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15 Photos of Afghan Girls Killing it at Skateboarding, the Biggest Female Sport in the Country

by Isis Madrid

February 4, 2015

What began as a series of casual sessions at a downtown Kabul fountain in 2007, Skateistan has evolved into a chain of empowering parks and classrooms in Afghanistan and Cambodia where boys and girls can get an education in everything from language to nutrition, work as skate instructors, learn how to wall climb and, of course, shred on a skateboard. Girls and young women, in particular, have a lot to gain from the non-profit.

In Afghanistan, President Karzai has stated that women may not travel without a male guardian. Afghan women are forbidden from driving vehicles or participating in the majority of organized sports, and they have a slim chance at an education or career. It is a heavily conservative patriarchy that’s been at the center of conflict for over thirty years where young kids often forgo an education to sell chewing gum on a street corner. At Skateistan, an NGO that introduced Afghan culture to skateboarding, girls play, learn and work freely. 

“I thought to myself, ‘How is it possible that I’ve been skateboarding with girls in the street, but they’re not allowed to play these other sports?’” founder Oliver Percovich says of Skateistan’s 2007 beginnings, “and I realized, skateboarding was a loophole. It was so new that no one had had a chance to say girls couldn’t do it.”

As of December 2014, more than 47% of Skateistan students are girls. In fact, skateboarding is the biggest female sport in the country

“Skateistan was led by the students,” said Percovich. “They were invested in it being a success. They made it success. Aid should be based on caring at respect – not pity. Today the image coming from Afghanistan of a young man with a big beard and an AK-47 can be contrasted with that of a smiling girl on a skateboard. Globally, only about 5% of skateboarders are girls. In Afghanistan 40% of skateboarders are girls.”

Here are some images of smiling young Afghan girls on skateboards (and in classrooms):

Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan
Image via Skateistan

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15 Photos of Afghan Girls Killing it at Skateboarding, the Biggest Female Sport in the Country