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First-ever Women’s Fitness Club opens in Kabul, aims to promote Health and Sports in Afghanistan’s Patriarchal Society

The teenager has been a member of the National Women’s Cyclist Association for more than three years and is currently practicing yoga at the fitness club


Kabul, October 30, 2016: The first-ever fitness club for women has opened in Kabul with the objective of promoting health and sports among women in Afghanistan’s traditionally patriarchal society.

“It was my life’s ambition to open this club — Blue Moon Fitness Club — and serve women like me and it cost me $20,000,” the club’s owner, Tahmina Mahid Nuristani, told Xinhua news agency on Sunday.

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“Afghanistan is a conservative society, but in defiance of this, I opened the club nearly two months ago, with the hope of contributing to female empowerment here,” Nuristani, 20, said.

In conservative Afghanistan society where people, especially in rural areas, deeply believe in tribal traditions, some of which include prohibiting girls from going to school or working outside home, opening a fitness club for girls is a particularly brave move, especially for a female and took a great deal of courage.

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“My sole aim of opening the club is to support the women’s cause and to encourage them to come out of their houses, go to sports clubs and exercise,” Nuristani asserted.

Although Afghanistan has made tremendous achievements since the collapse of the Taliban regime in late 2001 and Afghan athletes have brought medals home from regional and international tournaments, including from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics, the percentage of female sports-persons is almost zero, mostly because of traditions and cultural barriers.

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“Men on the roads harass me everyday as I travel to and from the fitness club,” Rukhsar Habibzai, 19, a club member, said. She added that the men even go as far as to throw stones and hurl abusive language at her as she rides her bicycle to the club, just because she is a female.

“Even though these ignorant, sexist men with extreme views are trying to intimidate me from going to the fitness club, I am determined to continue my practice,” Habibzai added.

The teenager has been a member of the National Women’s Cyclist Association for more than three years and is currently practicing yoga at the fitness club.

“With courage and determination, we Afghan women can overcome the harmful traditions and cultural barriers to prove and elevate our existence in society,” she said.

Although women’s social status in Afghanistan has been improving and women are currently engaged in politics, business, arts and other pursuits previously prohibited, many families still do not allow their female members to work outside of home.

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The private fitness club, which opened 45 days ago, is rapidly gaining popularity among female sports enthusiasts and its members are on a constant rise, despite a backlash from traditional male quarters, according to Fakhria Ibrahim, a yoga instructor.

“Since the club opened, 50 women and girls have registered and regularly practice yoga, body building and other exercises, and the number is consistently rising in the face of traditional restrictions,” Ibrahim said. (IANS)

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  • Ruchika Kumari

    Good job..this is really going to uplift the women condition in Afghanistan

Next Story

Iran invites Pakistan to join Chabahar project with India

India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016

Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Iran has invited Pakistan to join Chabahar port project
  • It is a very crucial port of great importance
  • India, Iran and Afghanistan have already signed a trilateral agreement in 2016

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has invited Pakistan to participate in the Chabahar Port project that connects India to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Eastern Europe, a leading Pakistani daily reported on Tuesday.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The move may be seen as Zarif’s bid to allay concerns here over the Indian involvement in the Iranian port, Dawn online reported. The Iranian minister also, meanwhile, extended the invitation to China.

“We offered to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). We have also offered Pakistan and China to participate in Chahbahar,” Zarif, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, said while delivering a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on Monday, according to the daily.

India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016 to jointly develop the Chabahar port, opening a new strategic transit route between the three nations and other Central Asian nations, bypassing Pakistan. In November 2017, India delievered the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

Zarif had earlier held bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Asif and addressed a trade conference. The visiting Foreign Minister is being accompanied by a large trade delegation from Iran.

He also said that Gwadar Port and Chabahar Port needed to be linked through sea and land routes for development of deprived Eastern and South-eastern Iran and South Western Pakistan. “We are taking measures to do that and there is an open invitation to Pakistan to participate in that,” Zarif said.

Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons

He also said that the Chabahar port project was not meant to “encircle Pakistan … strangulate anybody”, adding that Iran would not allow anybody to hurt Pakistan from its territory, much like Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used against Iran.

Zarif likened Iran’s relations with India to Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia. “Our relations with India, just like Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia, are not against Islamabad as we understand Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia are not against Iran.” IANS