ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Hailed by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Afghan author Malalai Joya will visit Central Washington University Wednesday, April 6 to speak about the current situation in her home country, focusing on the plight of women and the poor. Her free presentation entitled “A Woman Among Warlords” begins at noon in the SURC Theatre.
Joya, 32, fled Afghanistan with her family when she was just 4-years-old, and spent her childhood in mostly unsafe refugee camps in neighboring Iran and Pakistan.
In 1998, Joya snuck back home, then under Taliban control, to work with poor communities and to open an illegal school for girls, a medical clinic and an orphanage.
At 24-years-old, she was the youngest person to win a seat in Afghanistan’s Constitutional Convention. Two years later, Joya was one of the few women elected into the country’s parliament in 2005.
The BBC called Joya “the bravest woman in Afghanistan” after she openly accused other members of parliament of perpetrating war crimes, resulting in physical and verbal attacks and, over time, five assassination attempts. She was suspended from parliament in 2007.
An outspoken opponent of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, Joya co-wrote the acclaimed memoir “A Woman Among Warlords in 2009. Her historic election is documented in the 2006 film “Enemies of Happiness.”
“CWU needs to hear Joya’s story because part of the university mission is to educate global citizens, which means having an awareness of what is going on in the world around us,” says Cynthia Coe, professor and director of Women’s Studies at CWU. “Malalai Joya’s perspective challenges our national complacency about the United States as an agent of liberation and justice in Afghanistan, and asks us to reconsider how to support the effort to bring about real social, political and economic change.”
Recently, Washington state lawmakers were among those to sign a letter of support calling for the granting of Joya’s visa, which had been initially denied. Joya’s visit to CWU is co-sponsored by CWU’s Women’s Studies, Center for Student Empowerment and Diversity Education Center.
The event is free and open to the public. Persons with disabilities may request reasonable accommodation by contacting the Center for Disability Services at 509‑963‑2171 or CDSrecept@cwu.edu.