Hanifa is the youngest in a family of ten. She was born in Kabul and forced to move to Quetta, Pakistan with her family due to war. As a refugee and even when she returned to Afghanistan after the fall of Taliban, Hanifa never had the opportunity to go to school.
“In our families, girls didn’t go to school. Nobody encouraged me to do it.”
In 2016, Hanifa came to know an organization called ASCEND. Dedicated to promoting leadership through sports, ASCEND gave Hanifa a chance to change her life. There she was able to gain an education and learn professional mountain-climbing. While before she didn’t know mountain-climbing was a professional sport, today Hanifa is among the foremost climbers in the country and the first ever to summit Afghanistan’s highest peak.
I cried from happiness. I felt that I’d proven that news concerning Afghan women is not only about violence and threats. I was able to prove that Afghan women are strong. I felt happy, not just for myself, but for Afghanistan and for my countrywomen,” Hanifa says about how she felt on Mount Noshaq.
Sports make Hanifa feel free. She says sports can make women feel self-confident and gain the skills they need to define their own paths in life.
I want to help other women who want to do sports. With sports, girls can achieve their biggest dreams. That’s why we need to encourage them to participate.