Over a hundred people celebrated the August 25th “Orange Day to End Violence” with a bicycle race in Bamyan, Afghanistan hosted by the nonprofit organization Shuhada. Fifteen girls participated in the race to raise awareness about violence against women. Many others, including government and education leaders in the province, escorted them to the finish line. Prizes were given to the top three winners.
In a news item, the Shuhada Organization noted, “For more than a decade, civil society in Afghanistan, with the support of the international community, has advocated to end gender-based violence, with a particular focus on violence against women and girls. As a result, significant progress and achievements have been made to ensure equal rights for women and girls. Today, women’s rights and equality between men and women are enshrined in the Afghan Constitution and the Ending Violence against Women Law (EVAW Law).”
Through the celebration of Orange Day, Shuhada, with the support of UN Women, aimed to promote awareness of and support for the EVAW Law, especially among youth, men, and faith-based leaders. The law, which was issued by the executive decree of President Hamid Karzai in 2009, criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women and specifies punishment for perpetrators.
Zahra Hussini, a member of the biking team that competed, also used the occasion to share her concern about the lack of resources for young women in sports. “I wish, one day, the girls of my country would participate at the international level without facing any kind of race, gender or ethnic discrimination,” Hussini said. Hussini said even the act of riding a bicycle can be challenging for females. “We get a lot of harassment, and it is not a common thing for women to do in Afghanistan,” she said.
Started by the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, Orange Day has been celebrated all over the world since July 2012. The focus of August 25 was ending violence against girls.