Today, Dr. Sima Samar, whose distinguished career in Afghanstan and abroad has given her worldwide respect, has received an honorary doctorate from Carleton University. I had the pleasure and honor of being in attendance for this event. I cannot think of a better person to receive such a prestigious award.
Dr. Samar’s notable achievements include becoming the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Women’s Affairs in Afghanistan and is the as the founder and chairperson of the Shuhada Organization as well the current chair of the independent Afghanistan Human Rights Commission. Dr. Samar has been a champion of human rights, especially on matters concerning women’s rights and education.
I had the pleasure to be with Dr. Samar when she was first appointed Minister. I was able to introduce her work to Prime Minister Chretien. My personal experience of her is she is a very humble and dedicated person. She is truly committed to the rights of Afgani women and is especially committed to ensuring that these women receive an education.
In her address to Carleton yesterday, Dr. Samar touched on just a few of the key themes surrounding women’s issues in Afghanistan today. She talked about the history of women’s rights in Afghanistan, stretching back to the situation of women when Afghanistan was controlled by the Soviet Union. She then gave a history of the situation of women during the time when the Taliban was in power and the severe reduction of human rights. The fall of the Taliban government ushers in a new era of responsibility to ensure the protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan. However, she states that they are far from perfect. She maintains that some women “have not seen a doctor in their entire lives” even today. She believes that “women in Afghanistan deserve freedom and peace. In order for this to occur they must be actively involved in the peace building process.” Without this level engagement in the political community, there would be little hope for the region to stabilize. She urges the international community to include women’s rights, human rights and the economy as a definition of peace and security in addition to the absence of violence. Her words could not be more accurate.
Dr. Samar has been a champion of women’s rights and her knowledge and dedication have earned her respect in the international community. Her hard work and dedication to women’s rights issues are truly remarkable the all women in Afghanistan owe a great deal to Dr. Samar. I cannot think of a person more deserving to receive this honorary doctorate from Carleton University.