Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Women and boxers... in Kabul

In 2007, Hope of Mother (HOM) started a project aiming the creation of boxing classes to Afghan girls.  Through this sport - the most masculine of all -, the organization intended to increase self-esteem and confidence among Afghan women, accustomed to the canons of a male-dominated society, and to contribute to gender equality in Afghan society. Their success would prove that, in Afghanistan, new generations are open and permeable to social changes.

Tareq Azim, vice president of HOM, was the mentor of this project.
Em 2004, he left for Afghanistan the day after he graduated from Fresno State. "After taking in what was happening there, I was convinced I had the answer to peace – and that was communication and confidence", recalls Tareq Azim. "I started to implement these things and began using my energy toward positive.

Professional boxer in the United States - where he is known by the nickname "pashtune", a reference to his ethnicity, which is the majority in Afghanistan -, he has already represented Afghanistan in the Asian Games, in South Asian Games and Pan American Games. "I wanted to show the world that Afghanistan is ready for positive change through sports and the most male-dominated activity - boxing. There needs to be belief in all humanity in order for a country like Afghanistan to stand on its two feet. One foot being male and the other being female", says Tareq.

The begining of the project was not free from difficulties, but Tareq managed that around 30 girls attended the classes regularly. The trainings took place at the gym of the National Stadium in Kabul where, once, the Taliban used to held public executions.

Tareq Azim training the girls

For Tareq Azim, girl's enthusiasm for his project was the highest compensation. "Having planned the launch of the Afghan Women's Boxing Federation, I was told, several times that people would not allow me to do such a thing. And they said, even, that no Afghan girls would be interested", he says. "But the truth is that there were more supporters than I could imagine. We have a solid team and we have already created a national team to represent the nation."

Photos HOM

Additional articles:

Women boxers challenge Afghan culture, San Francisco Chronicle, 16/06/2008 

Tareq Azim lives family legacy with Afghani Women's Boxing Federation, Hope of Mother, and a desire to give, Boxers & Writters Magazine, 2009