Sima Samar

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Sima Samar
سیما سمر
Seema Samar.gif
Minister of Women's Affairs of Afghanistan
In office
December 2001 – 2003
PresidentHamid Karzai
Preceded byNone
Succeeded byHabiba Sarabi
Personal details
Born (1957-02-03) 3 February 1957 (age 62)
Jaghori, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan
Political partyTruth and Justice
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Ryan Crocker meet with Sima Samar inside the American Embassy in Kabul.
Hillary Clinton standing with Sima Samar and other female politicians of Afghanistan in Kabul, October 2011

Sima Samar (Persian: سیما سمر‎) (born 3 February 1957), is a well known woman’s and human rights advocate, activist and a social worker within national and international forums, who served as Minister of Women's Affairs of Afghanistan from December 2001 to 2003. She is currently the Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and, from 2005 to 2009, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan[1]. In 2011, she was part of the newly founded Truth and Justice party.

Early life and education[edit]

Samar was born on 3 February 1957 in Jaghori, in Ghazni Province of Afghanistan. She belongs to the ethnic Hazara. She obtained her degree in medicine in February 1982 Kabul University. She practiced medicine at a government hospital in Kabul, but after a few months was forced to flee for her safety to her native Jaghori, where she provided medical treatment to patients throughout the remote areas of central Afghanistan. She is currently the head of human rights commission in Afghanistan.


In 1984, the communist regime arrested her husband, and Samar and her young son fled to neighboring Pakistan. She then worked as a doctor at the refugee branch of the Mission Hospital. Distressed by the total lack of health care facilities for Afghan refugee women, she established in 1989 the Shuhada Organization and Shuhada Clinic in Quetta, Pakistan. The Shuhada Organization was dedicated to the provision of health care to Afghan women and girls, training of medical staff and to education. In the following years further branches of the clinic/hospital were opened throughout Afghanistan.

After living as refugee for over a decade, Samar returned to Afghanistan in 2002 to assume a cabinet post in the Afghan Transitional Administration led by Hamid Karzai. In the interim government, she served as Deputy President and then as Minister for Women's Affairs. She was forced into resignation from her post after she was threatened with death and harassed for questioning conservative Islamic laws, especially sharia law, during an interview in Canada with a Persian-language newspaper. During the 2003 Loya Jirga, several religious conservatives took out an advertisement in a local newspaper calling Samar the Salman Rushdie of Afghanistan.

She is currently the head of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).She established Gawharshad Institute of Higher Education in 2010, which has attracted more than 1200 students in a very short amount of its activities.[1] She is one of the 4 main subjects in Sally Armstrong's 2004 documentary Daughters of Afghanistan. In the documentary, Sima Samar's work as the Minister of Women's Affairs and her subsequent fall from power is shown.

Dr. Samar publicly refuses to accept that women must be kept in purdah (secluded from the public) and speaks out against the practice of wearing the burqa (head-to-foot wrap), which was enforced first by the fundamentalist mujahideen and then by the Taliban. She also has drawn attention to the fact that many women in Afghanistan suffer from osteomalacia, a softening of the bones, due to an inadequate diet. Wearing the burqa reduces exposure to sunlight and aggravates the situation for women suffering from osteomalacia.[citation needed]


She became a member of the Truth and Justice party which was formed in 2011.


Dr. Sima Samar has received numerous international awards[2] for her work on human rights and democracy, including:


  1. ^ Gawharshad Institute of Higher Education#Board of trustees
  2. ^ Honors listed in citation for the 2003 Perdita Huston Human Rights Award Archived 2006-09-01 at the Wayback Machine accessed at Oct 20, 2006
  3. ^ "John Humphrey Freedom Award 2009". Rights & Democracy. 2010. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  4. ^ A Different View, Issue 19, January 2008.
  5. ^ "The Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award". Retrieved 2012-05-08.
  6. ^ "Governor General announces 60 new appointments to the Order of Canada". July 1, 2009. Archived from the original on July 5, 2009.
  7. ^ "Alternative Nobel Prize to Hazara Human Rights Activist Sima (...) - Kabul Press کابل پرس". Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  8. ^ "Mother Teresa Awards 2012". Mother Teresa Awards: A Harmony Foundation Initiatives. Archived from the original on 15 December 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Allard Prize Recipient and Honourable Mentions". Allard Prize for International Integrity. Peter A. Allard School of Law. Retrieved 17 August 2015.

External links[edit]

Other Afghan Human Rights Activists

Government offices
Preceded by
Minister of Women's Affairs of Afghanistan
December 2001 – 2003
Succeeded by
Habiba Sarabi