93. Malalai Joya (ACTIVIST | AFGHANISTAN): for embodying an independent-minded Afghanistan.

Foreign Policy, December 2010

Foreign Policy Magazine

A vocal defender of human rights, a passionate opponent of fundamentalism, and a fearless advocate of a civic Afghan culture, Malalai Joya -- who has stared down numerous assassination attempts since 2003 and was suspended from parliament in 2007 for comparing the body to a "barn full of animals" -- is precisely the sort of Afghan woman the West continues to fight for in the Hindu Kush. That doesn't mean she's happy with her country's current state of dependency. "Afghans face three enemies," she said in a recent interview, "the occupying forces, the Taliban, and the warlords." Joya got her start as a humanitarian during the Taliban regime, establishing underground health clinics and orphanages to spite the country's fundamentalist rulers.

And she's just as skeptical of the human rights bona fides of Kabul's current powers that be. Afghans don't see the war between NATO, the Afghan government, and the Taliban as an either-or proposition, she argues. As she puts it, "Democracy without independence has no meaning."