Ahead of International Women’s Day next week, TIME has released its Women of the Year 2022 package featuring 12 “extraordinary leaders [who] are working toward a more equal world”. Among them is Zahra Joya, who started a news agency, Rukshana Media, in Afghanistan less than two years ago to “report on the stories of women and children” in the country. Last September she became a refugee, forced to leave Afghanistan because of the Taliban. She continues, however, to report on the experiences of Afghan women and in an interview with Angelina Jolie, she says that she and her colleagues are “trying to write for our freedom”.
In many places around the world, including Afghanistan, still, education restrictions are imposed on girls and the basic right to learn is withheld from 50% of the population. One of the reasons? Because when girls go to school, they find their words, and with those words, they try to “write for our freedom”. Which has been Zahra’s purpose – and the purpose of so many persecuted journalists who have been imprisoned, tortured, and in some cases killed for having the courage to report the truth.
Advocating for some them is the work of Amal Clooney, also one of the 12 women profiled by TIME. Amal’s interview is with journalist Maria Ressa who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for “[her] efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace”. Maria is the CEO of Rappler, a news outlet that has been relentlessly critical of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. She won the Nobel alongside Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, a publication that has criticised the Putin regime despite the enormous risk. We know what Putin does to his enemies, and as of last fall, “six staff members at Novaya Gazeta have been killed since the newspaper was launched”. Dmitry and his colleagues continue to call out Putin and Russian authorities.
â€œWe donâ€™t betray our readers, who need continuous and verified information,â€ Dmitry Muratov said. â€œWe will not become propagandists. We respect the sovereignty of Ukraineâ€”and the sovereignty of Novaya Gazeta.â€ https://t.co/E9RZI9lEYD— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) February 28, 2022
Because as Amal told Maria:
“You’re coming up against people whose power and existence depends on them continuing to commit serious abuses, and they’re not going to give up. So we definitely can’t give up on our side.”
She said this just about a week before Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine.
Amal leads the legal team handling Maria Ressa’s cases and she’s one of many of the journalists Amal and her colleagues are fighting to protect. In their interview, she and Maria discuss her caseload, how she comes to be involved in representing her clients, and why in her line of work, it’s impossible to separate the personal from the professional. How can you when your client is calling in the middle of the night because they’ve been arrested on bogus charges on the orders of a despot?
For more on Zahra, Maria, and Amal, check out TIME’s full Women of the Year 2022 package:
Yours in gossip,