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50 People Who Matter 2010 | 45. Malalai Joya

Afghan heroine.

Her enemies call her a dead woman walking, and the assassination attempts come with increasing frequency and ferocity. Life as Afghanistan's most outspoken female MP is fraught with danger.

Banished from parliament in 2007 for speaking out against the warlords, the youngest Afghan MP has since toured the world, refuting the "pack of lies" that the media tell about the "liberation" of Afghanistan and the notion that life for women there has improved since 2001.

Joya is a symbol of opposition, not just against the Taliban and misogyny, but against corruption and imperialism.

She is one of the few symbols of hope for Afghanistan's future.


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This article first appeared in the 27 September 2010 issue of the New Statesman, The 50 people who matter