Dressed in jeans, sweatpants and abayas, dozens of Ethiopian schoolgirls practice the art of landing and finding their balance — and their confidence — as they zip through a skate park in Addis Ababa.
Some glide gingerly forward a few feet, holding onto a friend’s hand, while others zoom over ramps and concrete bumps at full speed.
Members of the Ethiopian Girl Skaters, an all-female group founded by skateboarders Sosina Challa and Micky Asfaw, the girls – some as young as six – are defying gender stereotypes and having fun doing it.
Challa, 24, told AFP she started the organization to empower young women, who often struggle to take up extreme sports because of a common belief in Ethiopia that “girls should stay at home and help their parents.”
Since she co-founded the group in December 2020, she and the organization’s other mentors have taught more than 150 girls to skate.
Hanna Bless, a 22-year-old stylist who started skateboarding two years ago, told AFP, “It’s not common for a girl to start skating because people don’t support you.
“But someone had to be first, a group had to start and we were first and I’m honored to be a part of that,” she added.
Although Ethiopia is home to many skateboard groups, they are largely dominated by male skaters.
Over time, women skateboarders have learned not only to deal with the sport’s inevitable bruises, but also with criticism from naysayers.
Iman Mahamud, 17, told AFP that after 18 months of teaching she doesn’t care “what people say about me being a girl and doing stuff like that.”
“It helped me overcome my fears,” she said.
“I just enjoy it. It makes me happy.”
#Ethiopian #girls #break #taboos #find #joy #skateboarding