Malalai Joya, whom the BBC calls “the bravest woman in Afghanistan” will visit Suffolk University to discuss her efforts on behalf of peace and women’s rights in her native land – efforts that have resulted in death threats and assassination attempts.
Joya was elected to the national Parliament of Afghanistan by the largest majority of any candidate in 2005 and received national acclaim for her work. But in 2007 she was dismissed for publicly naming alleged warlords and war criminals in the Afghan Parliament.
Joya will speak on campus from 1-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, in the Law School function room, 120 Tremont St., Boston. Her visit to Suffolk University is part of a 10-city national tour sponsored by the Afghan Women’s Mission and the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC).
First-person account from war-torn country
“We have been waging war in Afghanistan for twelve years, but few of us have heard an Afghan perspective on the war or occupation,” says Sociology professor Amy Agigian, director of the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights.
“We see what we see on television, but now we can make personal contact with someone like Malalai Joya,” she says. “This visit is a unique and important opportunity for the Suffolk community to educate ourselves about what’s going on in Afghanistan today, especially the plight of women who are deeply impoverished and have the lowest life expectancy in the world.”
Stands up to Taliban
Joya, known for her criticism of the Afghan government and the presence of U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan, has been unafraid to challenge the Taliban. Her outspokenness has brought trouble, and she won't reveal personal details, hiding even her husband’s name in fear for his safety.
She was born in the Farah Province in western Afghanistan. Daughter of a former medical student who lost a leg while fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Her family fled Afghanistan in 1982, when she was 4 years old, to live as refugees in neighboring Iran.
Joya began her activism as an eighth-grader in the refugee camps, where she witnessed suffering in the many homes she visited. Her particular focus was women’s rights.
As a young woman, she was named a director of the Organization of Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities, in the western provinces of Herat and Farah.
Among world's 'most influentional people'
In 2009, Joya’s memoir, A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice, was published in the United States and Canada. A year later Time magazine named her to its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Says Professor Agigian: “Malalai is a real-life superhero; an Afghan woman who stood up to the Taliban, the warlords and the drug lords and lived to tell the tale.”
This event is sponsored by: Suffolk University’s Center for Women’s Health & Human Rights; the departments of Government, History, Philosophy and Sociology; the Crime and Justice Studies program; the College of Arts & Sciences dean’s office; and the Law School’s International Law Society and International Law Concentration.