OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Empowerment through Afghanistan

Skateistan is an organization based in Kabul, Afghanistan, which runs a series of clubs and "safe spaces" programs for girls to teach them skateboarding as a tool for empowerment. Most participating girls come to the Skateistan site five days a week, where they receive training and find a new community. They are also scaffolded into attending school; many of these girls are very low-income and don't regularly attend school. Skateboarding becomes "hook" for a larger project of girls' empowerment. And it's fun.

Photo of Marika Shioiri-Clark
10 20

Written by

Skateistan is really great because it's actually a fun activity for girls. Talking about women and girls' safety can feel very heavy, and it's important to remember that girls are girls everywhere in the world. and they won't keep coming to any program if it's not enjoyable for them. Inserting joy and celebration and kid-ness into new programs is a great way to ensure success.

Skateistan is also really skilled at organizing cross-cultural exchanges around skateboarding - they recently paired a group of skateboarding youth from Kabul with another from the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.


Join the conversation:

Photo of DeletedUser


Save Your Marriage and Get Your Ex lover Back! Dr.Unity has helped thousands of women get their Ex lover back" I'm Natasha Wanderly form USA. After 12years of marriage, me and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and moved to California to be with another woman. I felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he could come back to me, I was really worried and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr Unity can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a Love spell for me. 11hours later, my husband really called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and the kids. Then from that day,our Marriage was now stronger than how it were before, All thanks to Dr Unity. he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that Dr.Unity is real spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your ex lover back or save your marriage fast. Do not cry anymore, contact Dr.Unity now. Here’s his contact,Email him at: or Call/WhatsApp him +2348055361568 , website:, your kindness will never be forgotten.

Photo of Shane Zhao

Marika, this is a great idea to use skateboarding and other social activities as a "hook" to engage teenage girls into larger empowerment programs and exercises. Your post shares a common thread as this research entry on how hairstylists in Chicago have been professionally trained to handle cases of domestic abuse. The example of hairstylists as "couselors" shares a similar idea of using a a fun social context to allow women and girls to open up about their concerns with personal safety.

Thanks for sharing this! I actually recall seeing you around the Gund Hall when I was there. I was MAUD class of 2010. Hope all has been well since the GSD. It's great to see you again on Open IDEO!

Photo of Marika Shioiri-Clark

Thanks for this Shane, this is great! I love the idea of hairstylists as counselors.
Nice to see you on OpenIDEO as well!

Photo of DeletedUser


When you start to dig into the challenge at hand you get overwhelmed by the complexity of the issue of women´s safety. It has to be tackled both from a bottom up angle ( dealing with the roots of the problem/the solution) as well as from a top down one (solving the very imminent safety issues in the streets) This project I think is focusing on the first one. To deal with issues of empowerment for women. And I´m so impressed by it.

What would the top-down version of this project look like? I´m just trying to give my brain a bit of an exercise here..I´m not sure this is a good suggestion. I´m just throwing it out there:

-How about organising "Night skates" in troubled areas. Skaters of all kinds would join forces to kind of make "positive patrols around the city and bring fun, and a lot of people to otherwise empty, scary streets?

or what else?

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thanks for sharing Marika the program. Great insights too:
- making the program fun
- the holistic aspect: linking it to school: so that it also provides access to education
- connection between girls and boys (there have been many inspirations reminding us that we can't dissociate genders)

Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Skateistan is fantastic! As you said, skating is just the hook and leads to so much more. What I love most about the approach is that it accommodates local realities (e.g. it is not appropriate for girls in Kabul to ride bikes) and is inclusive of both girls and boys.

Photo of James McBennett

Somewhat reminds me of Fight For Peace / Luta in Brazil from a community around sport aspect. What it is interesting about Fight For Peace that might be relevant to this challenge is that no gang would mess with FFP because it wasn't a series of individuals, but a strong community. When we think of the girl walking alone on dark street, an attacker sees a vunerable indivdual, not the strong community.

Photo of Jamie Beck Alexander

Great comment, James. I like how this approach takes population density - which is usually thought of as a challenge - and turns it into an opportunity. Seems like there is great potential for this kind of model!

Photo of David Price

Thanks for sharing this, Marika. This model can be extended in so many ways depending on resources, geography, culture, etc. Expect lots of building off this in the Idea stage!

Photo of Meena Kadri

Awesome highlight that empowerment for girl's safety can be fun, Marika! Looking forward to seeing what this might inspire for our upcoming Ideas phase. And makes me wonder whether a fun aspect could be introduced for boys and men to take pride in supporting women's safety too?