Afghan female mountaineer plans next summit to show the world what they can do - GulfToday

Afghan female mountaineer plans next summit to show the world what they can do

afghan fatima 2

Fatima Sultani stands with her teammates during an exercise on a mountain on the outskirts of Kabul. Reuters

Eighteen-year old Fatima Sultani gazes at the peak of a mountain near Afghanistan's capital Kabul after completing a morning climbing session, considering her next challenge.


'Pink Shuttle' buses help Afghan women navigate conservative society

Afghan filmmaker and actor hospitalised after being shot in Kabul

Brave Afghan girls 'skateboard' to Oscar glory

She and her team of nine young Afghan mountaineers, including three women, are hoping to climb Afghanistan's Mir Samir Mountain and after that travel to Nepal to summit the world's highest peak, Mount Everest.

afghan fatima 3 Members of Hikeventures mountaineering team gesture as they reach the top of a mountain. Reuters

"My main goal is to show the world that Afghan women are strong and can do the most challenging work that men do," she said. "When I became aware that women from foreign countries come here to conquer high peaks I thought ... why can't we Afghan women conquer these peaks?"

Sultani has continued climbing throughout the coronavirus pandemic, in August making it to the summit of the 7,492 metre (24,580 feet) Noshakh Peak in the Hindu Kush mountain range in northern Afghanistan, becoming the youngest woman in the world to do so.

afghan fatima 4 Afghan mountaineers from Hikeventures team take a break during an exercise. Reuters

But as the Taliban hold peace talks with the Afghan government in Doha, many women in Afghanistan worry the militant group may exert its influence through formal political channels.

When the Taliban ruled the country between 1996 and 2001, they banned education for females and barred women from leaving the house without a male relative.

The group says it has changed but many women remain sceptical.

Afghan Fatima 1 Fatima Sultani prepares breakfast at her house in Kabul. Reuters

"When I got into sports, I knew that I would face some problems in the future, for example, one of the issues was that maybe the Taliban would hinder sport for women, but still I'm ready to face the challenge," Fatima said.

When she's not training in the mountains, Fatima lives in Kabul with her parents, younger sister and cat. Her father said he will continue to celebrate Fatima's achievements but has lingering concerns about her safety.

"I am worried about this, (the Taliban) oppose women's sports," Abdul Wahed Sultani said. "(But) I told Fatima that you are free to do whatever sport you want to, even mountaineering, and I will support her as much as I can."


Related articles