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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Indian awards for Aghan woman and Pakistani teenager

Both chosen for their work in human rights and women’s rights education programmes

By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent
Published: 17:28 November 27, 2012

Mumbai: She was once considered Taliban’s most wanted woman, but Dr Sima Samar who is recognised internationally for her commitment to human rights, will receive her first Indian award on Wednesday along with Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani teenage peace activist.

Like Samar, Malala, too, is a symbol of resistance to Taliban’s anti-education stand though Dr Samar has seen for decades the disintegration of her country right from the time Russian paratroopers landed in Kabul in 1979 to the years when the landscape of her homeland was ravaged by war and death.

Born in Jaghori, in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan, on February 3, 1957, the medical degree that Dr Samar obtained in 1982 could not be of any use in her country as she fled to Pakistan with her young son after her husband was arrested and became one of the 500 or more educated people rounded up one night in 1979 never to be of heard again.

Her work as a doctor at a refugee camp and the distress of seeing total lack of health care facilities for Afghan refugee women compelled her to set up the Shuhada Organisation and Clinic in Quetta, Pakistan, to train medical staff and to expand its branches throughout Afghanistan in later years.

The long time human rights advocate and former deputy premier in the interim government of Hamid Karzai is currently the chairwoman of the Independent Afghanistan Human Rights Commission.

“Dr Samar was chosen as the recipient of the 5th Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice 2012 because of her remarkable work in human rights and women’s rights education programmes,” Dr Abraham Mathai, founder, Harmony Foundation, told Gulf News. The Mother Teresa Award was instituted in 2005 to honour commendable work done by individuals and organisations towards social justice.

Mathai also informed that Malala was chosen for a special jury award in recognition of her courage and her determination to fight for girls’ education at such a young age.

“Her father, Ziauddin Yousufzai, wrote us a touching letter to tell us that he and his daughter were pleased to receive the Mother Teresa Award. But, he said, he could not come as his presence was required to be with his daughter who is under treatment and not allowed to meet any one.”

Malala is recovering from serious injuries in a hospital in Britain after a Taliban gunman shot her in the head on October 9. Her award would be sent through the Pakistan High Commission.

Other recipients of the awards include well-known writer Kuldeep Nayyar for his contribution to India-Pakistan peace efforts, Vinay Shetty for furthering the cause of blood donation, Flavia Agnes, a lawyer, for her commitment to women’s rights and fight against domestic violence, police officer from Gujarat Sanjeev Bhatt, for exposing communalism and the Shillong Chamber Choir for promoting national integration through music. The winners also include the Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission for its work towards empowerment of women and NDTV’s Support My School cause.

Gulf News 

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