LONDON: Zahra Joya, an Afghan journalist who highlights the stories of women in her homeland, has been named among Time magazine’s Women of the Year 2022.
Joya, who runs the news agency Rukhshana Media, which she launched in December 2020 and which publishes stories of life in Afghanistan, is currently living in the UK as a refugee.
She was interviewed for Time by UN Special Envoy for Human Rights Angelina Jolie. “Although it has never been easy to be a woman and a journalist in Afghanistan, now our reporting has been almost eradicated,” she told Jolie.
Joya, who was named alongside the likes of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and Olympian Allyson Felix, works with her team of undercover female reporters on the ground to highlight the conditions of women living in Afghanistan under the Taliban, as well as those who left following the group’s takeover of the country in August 2021 after US-led coalition forces withdrew.
Rukhshana Media, Afghanistan’s first feminist media agency, has covered the experiences of women from across Afghan society, including divorced women, single mothers, police officers and protestors.
During the Taliban’s recapture of the country, the agency partnered with British newspaper The Guardian to bring their stories to a global audience.
Since the Taliban takeover, life has become extremely difficult for women and girls, with Joya and her team receiving death threats for their work.
“The Taliban have forced female journalists to wear the hijab, banning them from appearing on screen or in public, or from broadcasting their voices on radio in some provinces, but this makes it even more important that our stories continue to be told,” she said.