Evacuation of Afghan Cyclists

Afghan women risked their lives and changed culture on bikes. Now cycling is banned and Afghan women and last year they began the most important race of their lives, the race to escape the Taliban. We are evacuating and safeguarding these cyclists
raised of £150,000 target
by 197 supporters
RCN 1148556

Be a fundraiser

Create your own fundraising page and help support this cause.

Start fundraising


The first generation of Afghan cyclists transformed a 'right to ride' movement that claimed their right to exist on bicycles in the public transportation space by challenging the taboo of women on bikes through sport. As of October, 2022 we have evacuated most of the female cyclists and several members of the men's national and provincial teams that were abandoned by their Cycling Federation. We are working to safeguard many still in Pakistan and to find solutions for those that are not yet resettled.

We have evacuated over 150 Afghans and resettled 112 into six different countries. We still have work to do.

Over the past decade, Afghan women and girls have been challenging gender barriers through cycling creating a generation of female athletes that didn't just play sports behind closed doors, but challenged restrictions of women in public spaces, modesty laws, and cultural ideas of femininity. These women rode bikes and competed outside of Afghanistan showing the world and their own country that women could become cyclists, using the sport of cyclist to normalise the taboo of bikes.

For these trailblazing sports women, the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan ends life as they know it. It is now the only country in the world that has banned cycling. It has banned education, travel, and women must once again wear the burqa in public. Women have been erased from public life in Afghanistan in a matter of months and they are at high risk of retribution. In August they were erasing their social media presence and burning their sports gear, diplomas, medals and other identifying items to hide their identities when the Taliban began door-to-door searches. iProbono is supporting these women and has established a fund to evacuate and safeguard them. We have been able to evacuate several with families, but most have left on their own.

Since August 15th, 2021 we have worked around the clock to evacate the cyclists and family members. The 112 that have been resettled already are scattered throughout Europe, Canada, and the US, but the many are still being supported in safehouses.

Those that have been evacuated are traumatised and depressed as they see their families back home face a country-wide famine and the collapse of their beloved country while the world seems to have turned its back on Afghanistan. A parallel fight to support the cyclists as their own Afghan Cycling Federation has worked against them to impede their evacuation, harassed and even sent death threats has added the burden of safehouses and trauma support to an already difficult and harrowing situation. Many have been physically harmed, others harassed, threatened, and emotionally abused, layering trauma upon trauma.

The goal since we began this work 15 months ago was always with an eye to the long-term programming goal of supporting these athletes after their evacuation so that they had the best possible chance for success and to keep them connected with their teammates. This has been derailed due to the relentless pace of the evacuation as the burden of safeguarding was pushed onto the shoulders of individuals to do the work of governments. Several like the founders of the cycling movement in Bamyan are safe in Sweden and Germany and are already racing again reconnecting with their identity as cyclists and the cycling community in their new homes.

Now the only barrier to evacuations is funding as individuals and small non-profits do the work that governments have failed to act upon. The evacuation and the ongoing programming support is led by Shannon Galpin, who has worked in Afghanistan since 2008 as a human rights activist, and directly with these athletes since 2013. She knows the country well and has evacuation routes and resources that are working, we just need to keep funding the work and the safeguarding the athletes.

For more information, please contact:

Mariam Faruqi, Managing Director - mariam.faruqi@i-probono.com

Richa Oberoi, Senior Advocacy Officer - richa.oberoi@i-probono.com

About the charity


Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1148556
iProbono strengthens civil society, represents people in need and advocates for equal justice.

Donation summary

Total raised
+ £3,339.25 Gift Aid
Online donations
Offline donations
Direct donations
Donations via fundraisers

* Charities pay a small fee for our service. Find out how much it is and what we do for it.