by Kate Fisher, V-Day Communications & Special Events Director

On Saturday, October 5th, 200 people gathered together for a sold-out evening at the beautiful Deepak Homebase, located in the heart of Manhattan at ABC Carpet & Home. Women, men, and youth came from throughout the five boroughs and from as far away as Buffalo to see Afghan activist and author Malalai Joya in conversation with Eve Ensler.

The evening kicked off a series of RISE4JUSTICE events, which will include upcoming evenings with Dr. Denis Mukwege on October 29th, and a special panel discussion on the State of Female Justice on November 7th.

On this night, the focus was squarely on Malalai and her incredible, dangerous, and inspiring fight for justice for Afghan women and girls. Malalai spoke of the struggles that she and her people face on a daily basis, the need for an end to the U.S. & NATO occupation in her country, and the importance of justice and freedom. “It is not impossible to bring freedom and democracy to my country. This is something we are working towards. One day, we will win.”

In addition to the sold out crowd, the event was viewed online by many people from as far away as the UK and India. In addition, the evening raised nearly $4,000 for Malalai’s Afghan Women’s Mission.

The response that we’ve gotten from both our live and virtual audience has been extraordinary:

“I understood much more clearly and for greater reasons why under no circumstance can the U.S. occupy another nation. I understood this on such an elementary level before Saturday. She really educated us on this point, and I think I will carry that with me.”

“Last night was amazing. The second Malalai mentioned that only 2% have internet access, I just sort of dropped anchor with that statistic as a place to create change.”

“I enjoyed hearing from Malalai Joya immensely. She is an amazing woman and very inspiring.”

“Loved last night. Extraordinary evening. I felt honored to be in the space.”

“Thanks so much, this evening was amazing.”

“Please do this more often!”

For me personally, this event was incredibly meaningful. I first met Malalai nine years ago. I was a volunteer with V-Day at that time and was asked to escort Malalai around the city for a day following her appearance at the 2004 Women, Power & Peace conference. At the time Malalai was 24 and only a year removed from the brave and historic speech that she gave as a member of the Loya Jirga. I was 21 and had recently arrived in NYC. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew how lucky I was to be given that opportunity and I had the sense that the time we spent together would impact me for years to come. Having Malalai here in NYC as part of the RISE4JUSTICE series was a true blessing, and seeing how both of our activist identities have grown since we first met was powerful and special.

Kate Fisher
Communications & Special Events Director

WATCH Malalai Joya in Conversation with Eve Ensler >

READ “Malalai Joya speaks about women, violence in Afghanistan” >

UP NEXT: The next RISE4JUSTICE event, Dr. Denis Mukwege in conversation with Eve, will take place on October 29th at Deepak Homebase. I hope to see you there!