|Suhaila Siddiq speaking in 2002-2004|
|Minister of Public Health, Afghanistan|
General Suhaila Siddiq (born in 1938), often referred to as 'General Suhaila', is a retired politician from Afghanistan. She served as the Minister of Public Health from December 2001 to 2004. Prior to that, she worked as the Surgeon General in the military of Afghanistan. As a government minister, she has been given the title Honorable before her name. Siddiq is one of few female government leaders in Afghanistan, and is the only woman in Afghanistan to hold the title of Lieutenant General. She has been working for the government of Afghanistan since Mohammed Zahir Shah's reign.
Early life and education
General Suhaila was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. She belongs to the royal Mohammadzai Pashtun lineage although some western media sources (i.e. BBC News) mistakenly described her as an ethnic Tajik.
During the government of Mohammad Najibullah (1987-1992), Siddiq was given the rank of surgeon general. She was the chief of surgery at the main Kabul hospital in Wazir Akbar Khan before and after the Taliban. Under the Taliban, she kept up the instruction of medicine for women, and managed to reopen the women's section of the hospital where she worked, after the Taliban had closed it.
After the removal of the Taliban government from Afghanistan by the United States and British Armed Forces, Siddiq was appointed as the Minister of Public Health and sworn in by Interim President Hamid Karzai. One of her first acts was to request help from the international community for the establishment a medical work force of women. She met a team from the World Health Organization (WHO) that was sent to the war-torn country to assess it health needs, and said that the training of Afghan women is key because they are a crucial asset in the health system.
Suhaila Siddiq is considered a heroine from the Taliban period by many feminists. Both she and her sister Sidiqa, who was a professor at the Kabul Poly-technical Institute, were two of very few women who successfully refused to wear the burka. She is quoted as saying, "When the religious police came with their canes and raised their arms to hit me, I raised mine to hit them back. Then they lowered their arms and let me go."
The following is a list of a few of the publicized activities of Suhaila Siddiq as minister:
- In April 2002, Seddiq oversaw the vaccination of about 6 million Afghan children against polio on behalf of the United Nations Children's Fund.
- In July 2002, Seddiq met with a Chinese delegation who have agreed to fund renovation of what is promised to be Afghanistan's most modern hospital.
- In November 2006, Seddiq presented a speech on AIDS in Afghanistan to Eurasianet in New York.
Siddiq lived all her life in Afghanistan. She has never been married because she was too dedicated to her profession and didn't have time for a husband: "I didn't marry because I didn't want to take orders from a man."
- In Leadership
- Interim Government 2001-02
- Profile: Suhaila Siddiq. December 6, 2001
- "'We Can Only Rely On Ourselves To Rebuild Our Country'". Newsweek. December 20, 2001. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
- Asne Seierstad, The Bookseller of Kabul, trans. Ingrid Christopherson, Virago, 2004, ISBN 978-1-84408-047-2, 92.
- Los Angeles Times, Health Minister Stresses Training for Women. December 29, 2001
- "Profile: Suhaila Seddiqi". BBC News. 2001-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
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