"They say a bicycle can destroy a girl's future..."
Or so relates one of the young women in the upcoming feature length documentary Afghan Cycles.
An important movement giving women more independence in many countries, in Afghanistan females are strongly discouraged from riding bicycles, an activity that stigmatizes them as lascivious and offensive. Nevertheless, the Women’s National Cycling Team of Afghanistan is growing as are other small clubs throughout the country from Kabul to the countryside.
According to the crowd-funded film's release, the brave women featured in Afghan Cycles range from 16 to 22 years of age. "Mariam, the oldest on the team, is like a big sister to the women, and she takes care of the organization and administration of the team. She is married, a unique situation compared to her teammates, as she needs the approval of her husband to compete, showing a more progressive union between the two in a country where many men require their wives to stay in the home. The other women represent the youth of Kabul. They are students, they have jobs, and they are passionate young women. In the midst of a chaotic and often painful daily existence, they each have their favorite places where they go to find peace. Following them in their daily lives not only illustrates their roles as cyclists, but also gives the audience an intimate look at what it means to be a woman in Afghanistan today."
It is inspiring to see these young women organically and peacefully challenging breaking gender barriers through a physical activity that they enjoy, resulting in a sense of freedom, a cohesive sense of community and cultural change.