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Nobel Laureates Honour Afghan Recipient of International Human Rights Award

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"Joya is a model for women everywhere seeking to make the world more just"

Nobel Women's Initiative, October 7, 2008

Nobel Laureate Betty Williams with Malalai Joya
Nobel Laureate Betty Williams with Malalai Joya at Women, Power & Peace Conference. September 2007. Photo by Lisa Lavert

We, six women Nobel Peace Laureates —Shirin Ebadi, Jody Williams, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchu, Betty Williams and Mairead Maguire— are honoured to once again support the Reach All Women In War (RAW) Anna Politkovskaya Award. This award is presented each year to a woman human rights defender from an area of war and conflict, and keeps alive the spirit of Anna Politkovskaya: a woman activist and journalist from Russia whose courageous reports of atrocities against civilians in Chechyna led ultimately to her untimely death exactly two years ago.

Thankfully there are courageous women around the world who, like Anna Politkovskaya, are willing to speak truth to power. Malalai Joya —the recipient of this year’s award—is one such woman. The youngest-ever elected member of Afghanistan’s national parliament, Joya has bravely stood up for Afghanistan's citizens. Like Politkovskaya, her outspokenness has come with a high price. She lives under a cloud of death threats, and on several occasions her opponents have even physically assaulted her. In spring of 2007, Joya was indefinitely suspended from Parliament for defending the rights of the Afghan people—this, despite the fact that women from across the country have rallied to her support. Joya continues to speak out for Afghan women, and against the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.

We commend this courage, and call for Joya’s reinstatement to Afghanistan’s national parliament. True democracy will come to Afghanistan when there is freedom of speech and movement. Like our sister Aung San Suu Kyi —who is still imprisoned in Burma for speaking out against the military junta— Joya is a model for women everywhere seeking to make the world more just. In her own words, "They will kill me but they will not kill my voice, because it will be the voice of all Afghan women. You can cut the flower, but you cannot stop the coming of spring."

In 2007, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire presented the Anna Politkovskaya Award to Natalia Estemirova. Read more here.

Click here to read more about Malalai Joya.

For more information about the Reach All Women In War (RAW) Anna Politkovskaya Award go to

Media Coverage:

Afghan woman rights campaigner wins courage award, Reuters India, 7 October 2008

Bearing Witness: The Afghan Tragedy, The Nation, 7 October 2008.

Joya after receiving the award in London

Joya delivers speech after receiving the award in London