By Free Women Writers – Here’s some context: Two weeks ago, Afghanistan and Jordan’s women’s football teams had a match. Since then, a vicious online campaign has been launched to smear the Afghan women’s team for wearing athletic clothes to their athletic game. The campaign’s fires were fueled by a Senior Advisor to Afghanistan’s National Cricket Board who published the post below calling all those who support women’s rights to participate in sports “damned”. Beyond his hateful words, he manipulated an image of a member of our team and a player from Jordan in a disrespectful way that stigmatizes their bodies.
Due to advocacy from Free Women Writers, the National Cricket Board’s Chairman wrote the following:
Despite distancing itself online, the National Cricket Board still hasn’t clarified how they plan to address this situation and if they are keeping their advisor who contributed to the launch of a hateful campaign.
It is beyond our understanding why in a country where stoning of women still happens to this day and corruption and suicide attacks are preventing Afghans from living peaceful lives, a senior member of the National Cricket Board, who should be supporting women in sports, would invest his time in spreading hate, antagonizing, and contributing to radicalization of youth on social media. As Afghan women, we stand in support of our Women’s National Football Team and will be spreading messages of love for them and all our athletes, regardless of their gender, because they present to the world a beautiful image of our country.
Here are a few of the dozens of messages of support we have received for Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team:
“We are proud of Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team! They are providing a new image of Afghanistan, one that is different from explosions and suicide attacks.” – Hadisa Osmani
“It’s not easy pushing forward through adversity, but you do a fantastic job! I commend our Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team on all their outstanding achievements. Please do not let the voices of ignorant people echo in your minds; prevail and continue to make us proud.” -Pary Shuaib
“Dear football team – Thank you for being role models for my seven year olds. They watch you play and see themselves playing football in future. In a world where all the kids learn that men are stronger, you show my kids that girls and women are just as strong.
We are so proud of you. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should dress. Your character and hard work defines you, not the words of a few mentally weak sick men. Keep up your good work!” -Rohina Sediqui
“Our National Women’s Football team is our pride. Some men in our society will do anything to shackle our women’s feet and hands in the name of “hijab”. You women continue conquering, continue shining and continue representing Afghan women.” -Wadia Samadi
“The women and girls of Afghanistan are strong and brave. If you don’t want to stand like a solid mountain behind them, don’t be on obstacle on their way either. Our National Women’s Football team motivate other women to work for their goals, regardless of their gender. Focus on their accomplishments, not their clothing.” -Zahra Wakilzada
“We are proud of our National Women’s Football Team! These champions are proving to the world that Afghan women are capable.” -Frozan Sarwary
“I am so proud of my cousin Zinet and all of the incredibly talented Afghan Women’s soccer team players! You ladies are showing the world that Afghan girls can do anything we dream of. Thank you for being role models!” -Aisha Azimi
“Every person is the owner of her own body. What one chooses to wear should be determined by their own taste and no one has the right to interfere on such a personal matter based on their own interpretations.” -Shabana Stanekzai.
“Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team are change-makers. Their success guides Afghanistan towards a new world, a more equal world.” -Roya Saberzada
“Athletes in Afghanistan continue to be the beacon of hope, resilience, and unity. We show our unequivocal support to our sportsmen, as we should, but our misogyny shines through when it comes to sportswomen. The choice of clothing from our national women football team is theirs only – NOT of the men on or outside of the field.” -Maryam Laly
“By breaking barriers and taboos, Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team encourage other girls to join sports. They are proof that Afghan women and girls can bring pride and peace to their country like other women around the world.” -Marzia Nawrozi
“I can imagine that Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team have overcome many obstacles and problems to get where they are. Let us respect their choice of attire and instead of insulting and oppressing them and support them so they can go forth with more strength.” -Rawina Saberzada
Join us in telling the world that Afghanistan stands on the side of progress and equality, not oppression and patriarchy. Send your message of support in Persian, Pashtu, or English via social media.
I support @Afghanistanwnt and other women athletes in #Afghanistan & around the world. How about you? Join me in saying it loud and clear: Women athletes have the right to be respected. http://bit.ly/2FaLgbW
SAMPLE FACEBOOK POST
I support Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team and other women athletes in Afghanistan & around the world. How about you? Join me in saying it loud and clear: Women athletes have the right to be respected. http://bit.ly/2FaLgbW
This article previously ran on Free Women Writers and is republished on Women You Should Know with express permission from the organization. Photo courtesy of Free Women Writers member Rohina Sediqui. You can follow Free Women Writers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.