Leading Afghan Woman Receives Prestigious Health and Human Rights Award
During the Global Health Council's (GHC) annual conference, a leading Afghan women’s rights and human rights advocate received the 2004 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights. Dr. Sima Samar, Chair of the Independent Human Rights Commission in Afghanistan, is a physician who defied Taliban edicts and provided Afghan women and girls with health care services and education. After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Samar served as Minister of Women's Affairs, one of only two women cabinet members in Afghanistan's transition government. In 2003, Samar was named a "Woman of the Year" by Ms. magazine, and she recently received a Profile in Courage Award from the Kennedy Library Foundation.
Samar is the founder and director of Afghanistan’s largest women-led NGO 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.
Bush Administration officials rescinded funding for the GHC conference, entitled “Youth and Health: Generation on the Edge,” because Republican staff members and right-wing groups such as the Traditional Values Coalition complained to the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services that the conference promotes abortion. The president of the GHC, Nils Daulaire, accused the Bush Administration for bowing to political pressure over the abortion issue stating that the withdrawal of funding “sacrificed the principles of participation and respectful dialogue to spurious allegations,” reports the Washington Post.