Leader and Care Giver
Dr. Sima Samar is a leader, a mother, and a doctor; born in Jarghori District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan in 1957. She obtained her degree in medicine in February 1982 from Kabul University; the first Hazara woman to achieve this in Afghanistan.
During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, she was forced to flee after her late husband. In Pakistan, she worked to set up medical services for Afghan refugees. In 1987, she helped open the first hospital for women, staffed by women in Quetta, Pakistan. And in 1989, she established the Shuhada Organization, a non-governmental and non-profit organization committed to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan with special emphasis on the empowerment of women and children.
At the Bonn meeting in 2001, Dr. Samar was chosen to be the first Deputy Chair and Minister of Women’s Affairs in the Interim Administration of Afghanistan. Under her leadership, buildings for the Ministry were secured and reformed and the Ministry began training, and service programs to help restore the rights of women. This enabled them to improve their economic, political, legal, and social status.
Among other accomplishments, the Ministry won the right of women government employees to return to their jobs and to keep their seniority. They also secured the representation of women as 11% of the Loya Jirga delegates, oversaw the re-entry of girls to schools, launched a women’s rights legal department, and opened a school for married girls. Dr. Sima also won support for the construction of multi-service women’s centers throughout Afghanistan.
Dr. Sima Samar is also the Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Before chairing the Commission, she was elected as the Vice Chair of the Emergency Loya Jirga in 2002.
Sima has received nearly 20 international awards for her work on human rights and peace since 1994, including: Global Leader for Tomorrow from the World Economic Forum (WEF), Ms. Magazine’s Woman of the Year award, awards by the International Human Rights Law Group and the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, the Profile in Courage Award, and has been named an Honorary Officer of the Order of Canada.