The Bravest Woman of Afghanistan?

I have always wanted to write something about the rising stardom of Malalai Joya, dubbed “the bravest woman of Afghanistan,” in the anti-war circles of the West. It seems like I will have to rely on this insightful post by Noorjahan Akbar for now.

Some points to ponder:

The point I want to make is that, unlike Ms. Joya, the majority of Afghan women fear the exit of foreign troops from Afghanistan for valid reasons. The Taliban regime was not only harsh and inhumane towards women, but also men, and also religious monitories or anyone who dared to question their authority. They enforced humiliating and inhumane punishments and took many lives and livelihoods in Afghanistan. Not only the educated elite, as it is sometimes imagined in West, but ordinary Afghans across the country suffered in their hands.  I am not claiming Ms. Joya supports Taliban, but her emphasis on troops’ exit makes it seem like she has little care for the consequences of an abrupt exit for millions of Afghans who still have faith in international community’s commitment to Afghanistan.

Is Ms. Joya a good representative of all Afghan women?

Afghan women, especially the 43% of Afghan girls in schools, the women who make 30% of university students, the women who make 29% of the teachers, the women who represent 28% of the National Assembly, the women who produce 7.5% of contractual services for the Afghan government, and the hundreds of women in shelters and those who work at civil services organizations, are well aware of the horrific impacts of the withdrawal of [foreign] troops from Afghanistan and would not support Joya’s stand on this subject. Hence, Malalai Joya is not the representative of Afghan women in the world.

Does Ms. Joya have an alternative?

Given the weakness of the central government and the Afghan National Army, it is clear that power will lend itself to either the Taliban or the warlords or a coalition of both after the foreign troops exit the country. Ms. Joya has no clear idea of how she and others who advocate for disengagement of foreign troops in Afghanistan will be able to provide any security to the people of Afghanistan or guarantee any rights to Afghan women if the troops should exit.

The bravest woman of Afghanistan?

The bravest women of Afghanistan are the 23 women who recently graduated as officers for the army, the 150 women who work 10 hours a day on a saffron field in Herat, the hundreds of women who sing songs of protest everyday in their houses to remind their daughters of how much courage it takes to live as a woman in Afghanistan and the tens of women who are sexually, verbally and physically abused everyday in prisons. The bravest woman of Afghanistan is Sakeena Yaqubi who has built a school and a learning institute, or Pashtun Begum, who was a beggar and now provides small business opportunities for other widows. A woman who has lent her voice to politicians might be brave but is neither my representative nor the bravest woman of Afghanistan.

Read the article in its entirety on Noorjahan Akbar’s blog.

6 responses to “The Bravest Woman of Afghanistan?

  1. Noorjahan Akbar has already received many negative comments for her piece which is pointless, Joya is our Heroine, she is the only woman in the country where not only big warlords and officials are afraid of her, but also the US govt. is afraid therefore they tried to stop her from entering to the USA.

    As and Afghan I am proud of Joya, she is a true inspiration for me and millions of others.

  2. I completely agree with Joya about the US war crimes and brutalities in Afghanistan. It is very sad that writer of of the above piece and many other Afghan so-called writers defend a brutal super-power and ignore their crimes, brutalities and supporting of a mafia and corrupt government in Afghanistan.

    Joya has come up with great idea to expose the US govt. which was the reason they wanted to stop her from spreading the message of Afghan people in the USA.

    Afghanistan needs more than building schools, when a corrupt and criminals-runing govt. is in place in Afghanistan, nothing will change to positive.

    Joya not only condemn Taliban but also the warlords of the Northern Alliance for their wrong-doings, this is the reasons some of their supporters and paid writers try to make useless comments against this brave and great woman.

    Joya, we are with you, keep up the good work!!

  3. I see this writer and some others criticize Joya on why she does not only educate women by making schools or giving job opportunity to women. In a word they ask her to do NGO type work like many other women and stop doing politics!!

    But for me and others Joya’s biggest success and greatness is her POLITICAL work. The US and other invaders also ask people of a country to do NGO work and they try hard to engage all intellectuals and activists in just NGOs so they do not struggle against the US and its puppets in political field. This is the reason that after 2001 over 3000 NGOs were registered in Afghanistan, but the country still lives in poverty and destitution.

    They are only afraid of POLITICAL activities and make any efforts to stop people from engaging in politics as this type of work can give awareness and consciousness to people that can result in uprising and fight for justice like what we see in Middle East countries.

    NGO, that too in a corrupt country like Afghanistan will not change anything, but in the contrary it will stop a serious struggle for justice and freedom. Only POLITICAL struggle can give people the power to raise up and overthrow tyrants and their Western masters.

    Joya is dear to me because she is political activist, not just a social activist.

  4. Malalai Joya is simply the greatest woman in Afghanistan. Proud of her!!
    You can’t undermine her by such cheap attacks.

  5. The people who support Joya are ignorant of Afghanistans politics that is why they are comfortably sitting at home in Europe or North America and critisizing the US of “invading” Afghanistan. We Afghan women who live and work here in Afghanistan do not support her at all because we know that the second the US leaves there will be chaos again. Why does she never talk about the effects of the US leaving? For those claiming that the Northern Alliance are criminals, well to most Afghans (majority) they are national heros and they represent us more than Miss Joya who is an emmbarressment to Afghan women.

  6. Thank you, friends for reading and the comment. I stand by my article and urge you to educate yourself on Joya’s stance and its possible outcomes in Afghanistan. She is angry. We all are. However, we need to work with wisdom, patience and utmost thoughtfulness, rather than rage and emotions. I respect the difference in opinions but I emphasize on the importance of a better alternative for the representation of Afghanistan; an alternative that focuses on progress and grass-roots, infra-structure change rather than political lobbying and finger-pointing.
    There are tens of women who are working there everyday. If you need heroes, look up Maria Bashir or one of the many other women struggling for progress in Afghanistan. We need progress and political participation in democratic practices and processes to change Afghanistan, not a rejection of everything without offering any alternative. My best.

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