Afghan women fight it out in Herat
Every day on World Now, we choose a remarkable photo from around the world. On International Women's Day, we spotted this striking shot of Afghan women doing martial arts, part of a celebration in Herat.
"Many people may think that these activities are only for men, especially in such a country," Sakhi Attaee and Rooz Zia wrote on the WomentoBe.org website. "However, they are indeed very popular in Afghanistan, particularly among young women."
Afghanistan is far from a feminist paradise. Last year, gender experts ranked it as the most dangerous country for women in the world. Yet Afghan women say there has been progress.
Martial arts is one bright spot: One of the first Afghan women to participate in the Olympics, Friba Razayee, was a judo competitor. She went to the games in 2004 along with runner Robina Muqimyar. Her martial arts training began in Pakistan, where her family had fled after the Taliban took control.
This year, the country is sending a female boxer to the Olympics in London -- 17-year-old Sadaf Rahimi.
"I will try to show that an Afghan girl can enter the ring and achieve a position for Afghanistan," Rahimi told the Associated Press.
Not all countries are making the same strides toward including female athletes: Human Rights Watch is pressing the International Olympic Committee to set firm rules before Saudi Arabia can participate in the Games. The country has never sent a female athlete to the Olympics.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: Afghan women perform during a martial arts competition as they mark International Women's Day in Herat, Afghanistan. Credit: Jalil Rezayee / European Pressphoto Agency