Every year, Time Magazine chooses women that are making difference in the world and gives them the recognition they deserve. Their Women of the Year- 2022 edition includes 12 influential and bright women with various experiences from acting to software engineering. One of the 12 women who were featured was Zahra Joya. An Afghan Journalist who tries to bring light to the oppression women are facing in Afghanistan due to the ruling of the Taliban.
Born in a rural village in Bamyan province in 1992 (30), Zahra Joya is an Afghan woman. Since the day she was born, she has been fighting sexist stereotypes, comments, and views made by her elderly family members, the overall society, and the Taliban. When she was five years old, the Taliban took over the country and banned girls' education. Joya walked to school every day for two hours, dressed as a boy named Mohammad to get the education she should have had the right to obtain. From a young age, she believed that women were bright and indifferent to men when it came to working, resilience, and intelligence. After working in a local newspaper for some time, Joya got interested in the job immediately. Later on, she worked for many years at local news agencies and at other newspapers as an investigative reporter.
Even though Joya faced many sexist barriers in her career as one of few women journalists, she continued to have hope that women will be the future of a free and healthy Afghanistan. Until the day when she was returning from work and could see men with guns roaming the streets signalling that the Taliban was back in power again. A year ago, Joya founded Rukhshana Media. A news agency run by women, talking about the uncomfortable and discriminatory lives of Afghan women and girls. This agency was a great opportunity to shed light on the lives of women all around the country. A topic that male journalists found unnecessary to talk about.
Now, with the rise of the Taliban, attention to women is even more needed. The Taliban is controlling the size of education women get -which is only religious studies-, what they wear -pressuring them to wear hijabs and burkas -, decisions in the workplace, and even the kind of phones they can use.
After the Taliban’s return, Joya was evacuated out of Kabul by the UK government as her past works opposing the Taliban put her life in danger. She feels extremely frustrated and unmotivated due to the news in her country. And yet, she is working hard and focusing on Rukhshana Media to raise awareness of the situation of women in Afghanistan and be their voices. “The Taliban can use their guns and their rules to try to break the spirit of Afghan women, but they cannot silence us all,” “I will never stop resisting.” she said to a Guardian article.