In conversation with Dr Sima Samar

indigo foundation joined together with UTS in May 2017 to co-host a visit to Australia by Dr Sima Samar. Dr Samar met with universities, think tanks, journalists and DFAT representatives to progress the cause of women’s empowerment in NSW.

This video is from a lunchtime event in Sydney – Dr Samar in conversation with indigo foundation Chair Sally Stevenson. This event was cosponsored by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and generously hosted by Maurice Blackburn.

Dr Sima Samar is the Chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the founder of the Gawarshad Institute of Higher Education in Kabul, where our partner, the Women’s Empowerment Centre, is based.  She has had an extraordinary career in women’s education, health and human rights, including as the first Afghan Minister for Women’s Affairs.

In 1984, the communist regime arrested Dr Samar’s husband, and Dr Samar and her young son fled to neighbouring Pakistan. 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, Dr 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 the 2003 Loya Jirga, several religious conservatives took out an advertisement in a local newspaper calling Dr Samar the Salman Rushdie of Afghanistan.

We are incredibly to work with Dr Samar in Afghanistan.