Dr Sima Samar, the chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC), will be presented with the Perdita Huston Human Rights Award on June 11 in Washington, DC. Dr. Samar is the first to receive the award, sponsored by the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area.
Dr. Samar is chair of the first Human Rights Commission in the history of Afghanistan. Previously, as Minister of Women’s Affairs, she was one of only two women cabinet members in Afghanistan’s transition government after the fall of the Taliban. Dr. Samar also served as vice-chair of the loya jirga. Dr. Samar has been a leader for women’s rights in Afghanistan. Despite facing strong political opposition, including death threats from fundamentalists, Samar presses forward. As the director of the Shuhada Organization, she also runs twelve clinics and four hospitals for women and children, as well as 55 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, serving 32,000 students. Her organization’s programs encompass relief work and literacy education, as well as community education regarding family planning and sanitation.
Dr. Samar will receive the award for her unfailing leadership for her countrywomen through decades of resistance and life threatening circumstances. The award will be presented by Gloria Steinem, a member of the selection committee and friend of Perdita Huston.