Khoshobo Jami is the Team Leader of the Peace Runner Group. When asked how her team came up with the idea of a running competition she recalled the day. “Everything started in a morning session of our Jawana class. We were discussing different ideas for a potential project. Encouraged by the Jawana program and our Course Facilitator, we felt that change was within our grasp. And we knew we could not shy away from change even when action was required to make it happen. Our group felt that certain areas of public life, like sports, were still male dominated and support for female teams is rare. So our group decided on the project idea to organize a female running competition. We named ourselves Peace Runners.”
On November 10th, 2016, The Peace Runners held a women’s running competition in Herat Province. Thirty-two female participants between the ages of 17–23 ran. Many of the participants are current high school and university students. The Peace Runners organized the event in such a way that the focus was on the competition not on the distraction of societal norms. In order to recruit runners, the Peace Runners visited local high schools, universities, libraries and other social centers.
In advance of the main event competition, The Peace Runners organized qualifying races for all interested participants.
After the November 10th competition, the Herat Sports Federation asked the Peace Runners if they would be the Federation’s official provincial running team. Jamila Azimi, a member of the Peace run-ners remembered the excitement she felt when she spoke to the Herat Sports Federation head. “The head of the Federation was excited to learn that there was so much many girls interested in running. He was positively surprised by how well we had organized and managed the competition. It was a great feeling to know that we were the first girls running group from Herat, and now we can represent Afghanistan in international running competitions in the future.
The team has big plans for the future, explained the Team Facilitator, “we will be participating in big competitions with the Herat Federation very soon. We will be the first official running department in Herat, and I am proud of my team for creating the department by ourselves.” The Team Facilitator went on talk about the pressure woman face in Afghanistan, “running is a great activity, which is why many girls are interested in doing it. Unfortunately, due to socially constructed gender norms imposed on Afghan females, there are not many opportunities to explore different sports. We designed and implemented this project to encourage girls to be brave and explore activities they are interested in, and we believe we have paved the way for them to practice sports like running.”