Sima Samar is an Afghan doctor who won the 2012 Alternative Nobel Prize. The committee awarded here with this prize is an admiration to her contribution toward the society by helping the poor, supporting education, equality and human rights.
When the 55 year old Afghan physician came to know that she will be the recipient of this year’s alternative Nobel Prize award, as she has been shortlisted by the Swedish award committee, she replied humbly to the designated committee that as per her view, she had not done anything exceptional, although the circumstances under which she performs are quite difficult. The circumstances were the exact reason due to which Stockholm based committee selected her for the prize. Although she knew that her life was in danger, she kept on helping poor and promoting the education in the region.
When she was selected, the Alternative Nobel prize committee passed the information to their regular Nobel Prize colleagues in Oslo, she was also in the short list of favourites for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Samar is known as the “Doctor of the poor” in Afghanistan as she dedicated her life to promote education as she believes that this is the only way by which we can alleviate poverty from the society. She was also pursuing the issues like women empowerment/equality and human rights.
In the beginning it was not easy for Sima Samar as she belongs from the oppressed minority of Hazara Shi’lte in Afghanistan. She earned her degree in medicine from university of Kabul in early 1980s. After the Soviet invasion, her husband was kidnapped and she had to flee to neighbouring country, Pakistan. She spent 17 years in Pakistan in exile where she worked as a doctor in an Afghan refugee camp. In 1987, she set up the first clinic in Quetta Pakistan for Afghan women and children. Two years later, she came to know about the Shuhada Organisation ,which now operates more than 100 schools, 15 hospitals and outpatient clinics on both sides.
Even when Afghanistan was taken over by Taliban’s, Samar continued her medical practice and schooling of children and women in Pakistan. In 2001, after US invaded the Afghanistan and exiled the Taliban, she returned to Afghanistan where the transitional government appointed her as the minister for women’s affairs. She resigned from her post in 2002 and joined Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) as the chairwomen.
Sima Samar believes that there is more which needs to be done for Afghan women as their situation is still suppressed. Equality is now a part of Afghan constitution but still, there are lots of barriers in implementing it. The issue of human right also deems special attention.
According to Samar, the thing which needs due attention is the expansion of education sector, schools and trainings. These are the key which can help in reducing the poverty level, which can help the young generation to understand and respect human rights. She stated that despite all the existing problems prevailing in the country, she is optimistic. She added that Afghanis survived many difficult situations before as well and they will survive this too.