Afghan journalist Zahra Joya, who co-produced the Pulitzer Center-supported project Far From Home, has won the 2022 Changemaker Award for her work to advance the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The Changemaker Award is one of four Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards given by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Joya reports on stories about women in Afghanistan from London, where she is currently seeking asylum. She founded Rukhshana Media, a newsroom that focuses on issues that affect Afghan women.
“It is impossible to explain in words how much Afghan women have lost in just one year… I want to tell you from here that we will not surrender to the forces of darkness,” Joya said in her acceptance speech in New York City on Tuesday, September 20. “We should defeat the darkness, and together, I believe we can.” A video recording of the awards ceremony and Joya's speech is available here.
The 2022 Changemaker Award honors “an individual who has inspired change using personal experience or from a position of leadership.” Joya received the award for “her work to ensure women’s stories in her home country are reported on and reach the attention of the wider public,” said the Gates Foundation in a press release. “Joya is progressing SDG [Sustainable Development Goal] 5: Gender Equality and SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.” Actress Angelina Jolie, who previously interviewed Joya for TIME magazine, presented the award.
The Pulitzer Center partnered with Rukhshana Media to support Far From Home, a collection of stories from women in the Afghan diaspora who fled Kabul after its fall to the Taliban in 2021. Through interviews and portraits of Afghan women who were forced to create new lives away from home, Joya and co-grantee Amie Ferris-Rotman shined a new light on the Taliban takeover.
“You need to have Afghan women reporting on Afghan women's lives. And I think that's why it was crucial for TIME magazine and the Pulitzer Center to support Rukhshana Media on this,” Ferris-Rotman said in a recent "Behind the Story" interview with the Pulitzer Center.
The Goalkeepers Awards announcement cited the Rukhshana Media collaboration on Far From Home as one example of Joya’s work to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.
“While the world is far from being on track to reach the Global Goals by 2030, there is still cause for optimism. We’ve seen how human ingenuity and innovation can lead to game-changing breakthroughs and progress toward our shared goals, and that’s exactly what we see in this year’s Goalkeepers Global Goals Award winners,” said Blessing Omakwu, Deputy Director of the Goalkeepers Awards.