Dr. Sima Samar, the recently appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Women’s Affairs for the transitional government of Afghanistan, met today with the U.S. State Department to discuss her role in the interim government that will take office December 22. Samar called on the United States to increase humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, combat the humanitarian crisis, and help ensure the success of the transitional government. While in Washington, Samar gave a press conference where Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal introduced her as a “courageous leader and advocate for women’s rights who is a hands-on administrator.”
Speaking to reporters at the press conference, Samar stressed the importance of restoring women’s rights to the future of Afghanistan. Women are the majority of healthcare workers and educators inside Afghanistan, making their work indispensable to creating a successful civil society. Samar once again emphasized that the violent restrictions placed upon women by the Taliban have no basis in the Afghan culture or in Islam and pledged her unwavering commitment to ensuring women’s rights and full participation in Afghan life.
Samar, a medical doctor, graduated from Kabul University Medical School and has been a tireless supporter of women’s rights in Afghanistan. She is the founder and executive director of the Shuhada Organization, which runs 45 schools in central Afghanistan servicing 20,000 students, as well as 11 clinics and 4 hospitals. Shuhada also runs 4 schools, a hospital, a clinic, and a training facility for physician assistants, paramedics, and teachers who are Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Many of Shuhada’s schools and clinics were the only facilities for women and girls in either Afghanistan or Pakistan. Samar has received many international humanitarian awards and was recently honored with the John Humphrey Freedom Award for her courageous work on behalf of Afghan women and girls.