A Message From The Creator

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future – Paul Boese

Inspirational Woman Of The Day

Malalai Joya

Emine Saner

The Guardian, March 7, 2011

Article History

Malalai Joya

Afghan politician and human rights campaigner who has shown phenomenal courage

To watch a 2003 video of Malalai Joya, then in her early 20s, making a speech is to witness phenomenal courage and the power of speaking out. Joya, now 32, was an elected delegate to the Loya Jirga (an assembly to debate the proposed Afghan constitution) when she stood up and publicly criticised the room full of men. “Why would you allow criminals to be present? Warlords responsible for our country’s situation . . . The most anti-women people in the society who brought our country to this state and they intend to do the same again.”

Delegates shouted “prostitute” at her, and the guards were ordered to throw her out. Later, a mob gathered where she was staying, threatening to rape and murder her. This moment sealed her reputation as “the bravest woman in Afghanistan“.

Joya was just four days old when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Her mother took her 10 children first to refugee camps in Iran, then Pakistan; her father stayed to fight. In the camps, Joya learned to read and began to teach other women, including her illiterate mother. A charity called theOrganisation of Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities smuggled Joya – then 16 – back to Afghanistan to set up a secret school for girls. “Every time a new girl joined the class, it was a triumph,” she said.

In the aftermath of 9/11, and the American invasion of Afghanistan, the vacuum left by the fall of the Taliban was filled by warlords. Determined to challenge the authority these men had over the country, Joya decided to stand for election, speaking out against these fundamentalist “warlords”, a word few dared say in public. Despite threats from these powerful men, there was also a huge swell of support for Joya, a rare politician, ordinary Afghans felt, who wasn’t afraid to speak the truth. She won a landslide victory when she ran for parliament in 2005, the youngest person to be elected, only to be kicked out after she compared the house to a “stable or zoo” in a TV interview.

Joya is married, but doesn’t see her husband often and has not named him publicly for fear that he will be murdered; she has survived several assassination attempts. In an interview with the New Statesman she said: [] in January, : “The US replaced the barbaric Taliban with the brutal Northern Alliance. This act betrayed human rights. The situation for women is as catastrophic today as it was before. In most provinces, women’s lives are hell. Forced marriages, child brides and domestic violence are very common. Self-immolations are at a peak.”

She lives in a series of safe houses run by supporters, travels with bodyguards, wears a burqa and does not attend public meetingsliving in fear for her life. “My parents chose my first name after Malalai of Maiwand,” she said in an interview in 2009 to promote her memoir, Raising My Voice. “She was a young woman who, in 1880, went to the front line of the second Anglo-Afghan war to tend the wounded. When the fighters were close to collapse, she picked up the Afghan flag and led the men into battle herself. She was struck down – but the British suffered a landmark defeat, and, in the end, they were driven out.”

Local Inspiration



TWEED women were acknowledged and thanked for their outstanding and wide ranging contributions.

Inspirational Tweed women thanked

TWEED women were acknowledged and thanked for their outstanding and wide ranging contributions yesterday.

The Tweed Shire Women’s Service Wonders of Women Awards at the Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club celebrated inspirational local women in the spirit of today’s International Women’s Day.

Seven outstanding achievement awards and one woman of the year award reached the hands of worthy local women.

Nanette Gilbert presented community supporters and volunteers, aged care, youth and children and emergency outstanding achievement awards.

“This category recognises women who have volunteered or gone above and beyond the call of duty in their support and encouragement of the community,” Ms Gilbert said.

Winner: Ann Anderson.

“Ann, in her role as volunteer and treasurer with the Murwillumbah Evening View Club and District Hospital has demonstrated her commitment to her community through her roles as volunteer co-ordinator, trainer and treasurer,” Ms Gilbert said.

She said the aged care category recognised women who had contributed to the rights of aged people and communities.

“Nominees will have supported and/or encouraged people to feel more comfortable and connected to their community or who have enhanced their personal dignity and self-worth through leadership, promotion, community development, education and significant contribution to the sector.”

Winner: Doreen Welsh.

“Doreen formed the Twin Towns Friends in 1997 and has consistently and progressively run and developed significant programs as part of the Twin Towns Friends Association.

“Through long-term dedication and commitment and the provision of training to volunteers, Doreen has and continues to support over 200 clients.”

The youth and children category recognised women how have promoted positive attitudes, skills and actions of youth and children, Ms Gilbert said.

“This nominee has supported and encouraged youth and children to achieve their goals in order to enhance their self-worth, safety and wellbeing, making it possible for them to reach their true potential.”

Winner: Ellen Oldfield.

“Ellen is a passionate, committed social justice worker employed by the Department of Human Services.

“At the age of just 57 Ellen returned to university and completed her bachelor of education and then her masters.

“Since 2004, at the age of 64, Ellen entered the Department of Community services where she has supported, guided, advocated and significantly contributed to the safety and wellbeing of children in our community.”

And the emergency category winner demonstrated clinical competence, outstanding contribution and a beyond duty contribution to rural emergency services.

Winner: Theresa Zambelli.

“Theresa teaches first aid throughout the Far North Coast, is a member of the Rural Fire Service and is the volunteer treasurer for the Burringbar Rural Fire Service.

“Theresa drives the trucks, attends the fires and promotes fire wise education in the local high schools.”

Carol (surname unknown) awarded the arts and music, environment, and indigenous and culture awards.

“(The arts and music) category recognises women who through their passion and enthusiasm have inspired people to explore their creativity in their artistic field,” she said.

“The nominees have demonstrated inspiration, commitment and leadership to the creative arts through active education, engagement and leadership.

Winner: Shirley Kennedy.

“Shirley is a passionate, enthusiastic treasure in our community who has motivated, advised, critiqued and promoted emerging artists throughout the region in her role as artist, curator, judge, mentor, patron, sponsor and tutor.”

She said the environment award recognised women passionate about protecting the local environment.

Winner: Carolyn Rifello.

“Carolyn is a founding member of Tweed Climate Action Now, and is an active member of the Northern Rivers Guardians, Water Demand Management Strategy, Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers and Red Cross,” Carol said.

“Carolyn has been responsible for the planting of bush tucker trees at the Uki Water Treatment Plant and the bush regeneration in the Terragon area.”

Promotion of positive attitudes, skills and actions among Indigenous people and other cultures marked the Indigenous and culture award nominees, she said.

Winner: Bec Couch.

“Bec has been the driving force in her role as Aboriginal Liaison Officer with the Tweed Police, in bringing a huge range of education, support and development training programs to the Tweed for women, men and young people.

“She is a strong and consistent voice in the sector in advocating for change, reconciliation and self-determination of the indigenous community.”

The founder of Tweed Heads Women in Business and practicing accountant, Julie West, was thanked for her “ability to get in, get wet, get dirty and get going – an absolutely awesome woman”.

Mrs West was awarded woman of the year.

Learn more about her in this weekend’s Daily News.


Women In The News

Sramana Mitra

To Work or Not To Work. Is that the Right Question? Every Woman’s Dilemma – just ask Entrepreneurs Amy Pressman, Wendy Tan White, Victoria Ransom, and Julia Hartz.

As Shakespeare might have said if he lived today – To work or not to work –“that is the question”!

“Whether it is nobler in the mind to” (be a mother at home or at work) and “to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (no matter which you choose!), 

“Or to take arms against (this) sea of troubles and by opposing, end them”!

Will there ever be an end to this sea of troubles, the role of women in this economy? Sramana Mitra (pictured left), Founder of 1M/1M, has an answer. “You have to have enough self-esteem tomake the right decision as it applies to youand not to fulfill somebody else’s expectations”. Sramana interviewed several women entrepreneurs who work with their spouses and asked how they were faring. The women were all very different – different backgrounds as well as different types of companies, but one issue was the same, they put their hearts into what they were doing. You should read their stories because they have a lot to say about the “answer” for women looking to fund their startups or trying to work with children. Amy Pressman (pictured right) founded Medallia with her husband; Wendy Tan Whitefounded Moonfruit with hers; Victoria Ransom founded Wildfire with hers; andJulia Hartz founded Eventbrite with hers. Each of these women played a different role in 

their company and faced different challenges, but they were all successful in their own way.

There is one problem Shakespeare pointed out which I noticed is common to us all. “To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub!”As every mother and woman entrepreneur knows, sleep is not an option!

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