The Afghan journalist Zahra Joya has been named as one of Time’s women of the year 2022 for her reporting of women’s lives in Afghanistan through her news agency, Rukhshana Media.
Now living as a refugee in the UK, Joya continues to run Rukhshana Media from exile, publishing the reporting of her team of female journalists across Afghanistan on life for women under Taliban rule.
Rukhshana Media partnered with the Guardian on the Women report Afghanistan series during the Taliban takeover in August 2021, which told the stories of women fleeing their homes as the Taliban advanced and the plight of divorced and single mothers, attacks on women police officers and the crushing of protests. Joya has continued to report for the Guardian since she was evacuated from Kabul to London.
Joya launched Rukhshana Media in December 2020 with her own money as Afghanistan’s first feminist news agency, with the aim of becoming the first national news source where an Afghan woman in any region could see her own life reflected in the stories published every day.
Both she and her journalists faced attacks and threats to their lives due to their reporting on women’s rights and her team in Afghanistan continues to work in secret.
“Although it has never been easy to be a woman and a journalist in Afghanistan, now our reporting has been almost eradicated,” says Joya.
“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.”
Joya was interviewed by Angelina Jolie for Time’s women of the year issue, which also featured the human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, the Olympian Allyson Felix and the poet Amanda Gorman.