A brave Afghan woman stands up to the fundamentalist male supremacists: December 17, 2003—Protesting the selection of male commanders as committee chairs at the Loya Jirga in Afghanistan, a female delegate argued on the floor of the Loya Jirga that these mujahidin fighters brought war to Afghanistan and should be tried in international courts. Malalai Joya, a delegate from the Farah Province, asked the Loya Jirga why they selected as committee chairmen "those criminals who have brought these disasters for the Afghan people," according to the Associated Press. According to Agence France Presse, dozens of angry mujahidin delegates stood up and rushed the stage shouting "Allah akbar" (God is great) and demanded her expulsion.

Malalai Joya deserves all our support for her courageous stance. Prophet Muhammad said that the best form of jihad is to speak truth to power. Brave Afghan women like Malalai Joya are showing the nation the way.

The outspoken Afghan heroine Malalai Joya was under the protection of the United Nations after speaking up at the Loya Jirga to denounce the positions of power given to the mujahidin warlords who had brought devastation to the country. Her life is in danger because she openly dared to tell the truth about those violent men.

Malalai Joya is a 25 year old Muslim woman elected from the province of Farah for the Afghan Loya Jirga.
She has no political affiliations with any political parties but represents the most rudimentary class—the barefooted, weakest, silent, poorest Afghans.
She has worked for 4 years in Afghan refugee camps.
She taught social sciences for 2 years in Herat under the pretext of a religious school without the Taliban's permission.
She stands for FREEDOM OF SPEECH, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, against WAR CRIMINALS , against those who have misused the name of Islam and ruined the name of the true jihad, and against those who oppress women.

(Thanks to Maryam Aslami for sending additional information on this topic and for making a Malalai Joya home page.)

Women delegates at Afghanistan's Loya Jirga, grand council, are protesting that their male colleagues are trying to shut them out of leadership positions and that the men treat the women like second-class citizens. A female delegate from Kabul stated, "from the very beginning the process was flawed because we are totally outnumbered here by the men...It was symbolically important for a woman to be in a high position, but the bigger battle will be over the constitution," reports the Associated Press.

Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls

FREEDOM DENIED: When the Taliban fell, women were supposed to get a better deal. It hasn't happened. article by Samantha Nutt, Jul 1, 2003.

Afghanistan's Women Still Need Our Help
Despite some post-Taliban improvements, many restrictions remain in place.

Bad news from Afghanistan... Taliban-style repression returns to Herat.
Falling Back to Taliban Ways with Women
"They used their connections to the United States to seize power but then embraced some of the Taliban's most odious restrictions."

Afghan Women: Now Is the Time

Now that the Taliban are toast, we need to move on from here.  Afghan women must participate in the new government and be elected to office. They have an essential role to play from now on.  After Afghanistan's 1964 constitution guaranteeing equality for women, they took their place in the professions and education.  Afghan women made up 50% of government workers and 40% of physicians.  All this time there have been many highly educated professional women waiting for the chance to return to their country and help rebuild it.  Now the chance they have long expected has arrived.

If Afghanistan is to have any hope of reconstructing itself as a healthy nation, it must include women in government and ensure their representation.  The surest way to redress the injustice of the Taliban years will be to bring women to the forefront in remaking the nation.  As the Afghan people write a new constitution, it is imperative that they enshrine full equal rights for women and a voice in running the country, as is their due in Islam.  No more can Islam be used as an excuse to exclude women, since Muslim women have now researched and published the evidence from original Islam that they had these rights in the first place, and are determined to regain them.  Men and their wars have made Afghanistan into a disaster area.  The only hope for the country to recover is to give the women a turn, let their female power restore and heal, and return their nation to sanity. With this opportunity for the Afghan people to make a fresh start, they have a chance to demonstrate what Muslim women are capable of, given their equal status in Islam.  This turning point in history is a chance not to be missed for Muslim women's advancement.

It is now time to plan for a future of women's equality in Afghanistan and the rest of the Muslim world. 

The 2002 Loya Jirga turned out to be a big disappointment for the Afghan people and Afghan women in particular, once the fix was in.  An Afghan member of the International Human Rights Law Group, Belquis Ahmadi, offers a dismayed assessment of the post-Taliban situation in her article "Reality Gap in Afghanistan."

January 27, 2002—Kudos to President Ahmad Karzai, who, speaking at Georgetown University, said:

"If anybody wants to be president, she is welcome!"

March 31, 2002—The Loya Jirga to set up the new Afghan government will have at least 160 women out of more than 1500 members. 
December 6, 2001—The appointment of two women to the interim government, Sima Samar and Suhaila Siddiqi, is a significant first step, but it mustn't stop there.  Afghan women will have to remain vigilant that they will not be shut out and their voices will not be ignored as the interim government prepares for elections.  They must have a say in the Loya Jirga and run for elections to guarantee that they will get beyond tokenism to full participation.

UN special representative for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi said the two appointments would not represent the full range of women the UN eventually hoped to have in the government. "We are right to expect more," he said. "But it is not a bad beginning, there were none in previous governments." 

Focus on Women Emerging from the Shadow of the Taliban — International Women's Day returns to Afghanistan

For Sima Samar, rebuilding Afghanistan is a personal quest

Leaping to Conclusions by Tamim Ansary—a very thoughtful article expressing a notable Afghan voice of moderation.  "Well-meaning observers are making dangerous assumptions about Afghan women and their goals for the future."

Afghanistan's new women politicians

Putting the World on Notice: Delegates to the Afghan Women's Summit, deftly maneuvering past their differences, issue an ambitious agenda for inclusion in their nation's future.

Afghan Women’s Summit Announces Recommendations for Reconstruction

Afghan Women in Peace Processes

Afghan Women's Summit to be Held in BrusselsHillary Clinton Hosts Forum for Afghan WomenIn Bonn, A Call for Afghan Women’s Rights and Government Participation: "‘We are not waiting any longer to be invited to sit at these tables where peace is being discussed and the reconstruction of our economy,’ said Sima Wali, a feminist delegate to the United Nations talks on Afghanistan in Bonn and Vice President of Sisterhood is Global."

Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women

...And the Legitimacy of Afghanistan

Rona Mansur and Sima Wali advocating women's participation in the new government, 
November 29, 2001.
Rona Mansur and Sima Wali advocating women's participation in Afghanistan's new government, November 29, 2001.

Links to Resources on Afghan Women


[The following essay I wrote in November 1998, when I realized I could no longer refrain from speaking out against injustice.  Writing it and publishing it was the impetus that led to making this whole web site in the first place.]

Taliban's Atrocities Against Women

The religion of Islam requires us to cherish women. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) loved women and was always kind to them and uplifted their status to be the equals of men. I am an American Muslim man who is religiously observant and believes in the Shari‘ah, but I am deeply outraged at the Taliban regime and their obscene mistreatment of women. What they are doing is completely against Islamic principles and has no basis in the Shari‘ah. It is sickening that this coarse, crude parody of Islam thinks it can pass itself off as the real thing. The truth is that from the very beginning Islam established women's rights which were eroded later. Islamic feminists have been rightly questioning what went wrong with the status of women after the first generation of Muslims, and trying to restore the rights that Muslim women originally had. The Taliban are nothing but a disgusting disgrace to Muslims everywhere. We just hope it's understood that they are violating the true Islamic principles. It's not enough that Western human rights organizations are trying to do something to help the miserable condition of Afghan women; it's more important that the world's Muslims speak out and work for change there. I am trying to get the word out to all the Muslims I know.

Aisha Harris's article "The Taliban: Believers or Enemies?" — well worth reading.

Azizah Y. al-Hibri, professor of Islamic Law, critically examines the errors of the Taliban.

Another article

Afghanistan's Forgotten Women - News and Commentary

Buried Alive: Afghan Women under the Taliban

When fanatics like the Taliban seize control of Islamic countries, women are the first to suffer.

Women's Rights and Equality in Islam
Women in Mosques
Muslim Women Reclaim Their Original Rights