UMass Boston News

Lecture: Malalai Joya: Have Afghan Women Been Liberated?

Image of Malalai Joya on book cover A Woman Among Warlords
Malalai Joya has spoken out against former warlords and war criminals and has survived six assassination attempts.

When President George W. Bush launched his assault on the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 he declared that one of the objectives was to "liberate" Afghan women from the repression of the warlords. That promise has thus far been all but empty. Malalai Joya has courageously carried the struggle to fulfill the promise of liberation for Afghan women. In 2007 she spoke out against former warlords and war criminals in the Afghan parliament and was thereupon suspended from the parliament. Since then she has survived six assassination attempts. She travels in Afghanistan with armed guards and has worked tirelessly on behalf of Afghan women and to end the occupation of her country.

Malalai Joya, 35, first gained international attention in 2003 when she spoke out publicly against the domination of warlords in Afghanistan. She was at that time serving as an elected delegate to the Loya Jirga that was convened to ratify the Constitution of Afghanistan. In 2005 she became one of 68 women elected to the 249-seat National Assembly, or Wolesi Jirga, and was the youngest member of the Afghan parliament.

An extraordinary young woman raised in the refugee camps of Iran and Pakistan, Joya became a teacher in secret girls' schools, hiding her books under her burqa so the Taliban couldn't find them; she helped establish a free medical clinic and orphanage in her impoverished home province of Farah.

In 2007 she spoke out against former warlords and war criminals in the Afghan parliament and was thereupon suspended from the parliament. Since then she has survived six assassination attempts. She travels in Afghanistan with armed guards and has worked tirelessly on behalf of Afghan women and to end the occupation of her country.

In 2010, Time Magazine placed Malalai Joya on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Foreign Policy Magazine listed her in its annual list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. In March, 2011, The Guardian listed her among the "Top 100 women activists and campaigners."

Her widely praised book, A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice, was published in 2009 by Scribner in the U.S. The ebook version was published by Simon and Schuster.

For more information, contact Paul Atwood at 617.287.5863 or Paul.Atwood@umb.edu.

For disability-related accommodations, visit www.ada.umb.edu.

This event is being sponsored by the departments of American Studies, Asian Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies along with the Honors Program, the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences, the Institute for Asian American Studies, and the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development.

For disability-related accommodations, including dietary accommodations, please visit www.ada.umb.edu two weeks prior to the event.