Afghanistan: Malalai Joya

Women in Afghanistan are in exigent need of peace. I believe that once peace is achieved, they can get their full rights.

— Malalai Joya

Malalai Joya (25) was born in Farah. She had her early schooling in Iran and Pakistan. After the Bonn Peace Accord of 2001 and the toppling of the Taliban regime, she returned to her hometown and started to work as a social worker and women’s rights activist. She has helped to establish the Hamoon Health Center to provide free medical treatment and medicines for children and unwaged women. She advocates women’s rights and human rights issues through meetings and the distribution of leaflets. She has also worked with the disabled, providing wheelchairs and prosthesis.

Malalai Joya was motivated to finish her education and work as a health educator in the refugee camps in Pakistan. Her father, who had lost a leg in the war, was a member of the resistance against the Russian Occupation of Afghanistan. Malalai was fervently dedicated to becoming an advocate of women’s rights after witnessing the despotic and degrading attitude of the mujahideen and the Taliban towards the role of women. So, Malalai's starting point was to educate women and girls by conducting adult literacy courses for women and girls. Her vision of a peaceful country is to disarm the militia groups and to end the cultivation and trade of opium poppy in the country. A secure and peaceful society, Malalai believes, will lead to the recognition and respect for women and human rights. She is active at grassroots as well as province level, has established an orphanage that provides shelter to children who have lost their parents in the war, and she has founded several adult literacy and computer science courses for women and youths in order to develop their work capacity and keep them up-to-date with information technology. Malalai Joya was chosen as the women’s representative to the Constitutional Committee Loya Jirga. At this assembly, she voiced her opposition to the participation of the warlords in the formation of the Constitution. Her challenging speech provoked the wrath of the extremists with the reult that she had to be escorted by security guards during the Loya Jirga. Malalai Joya, along with other women delegates, has been loyal to defending women’s rights in the new Constitution of Afghanistan.

Hamoon Health Center