Central Asia Program Series Publications Voices from Central Asia

The Hidden War Against Women: Health Care in Afghanistan

Voices From Central Asia No. 4, August 2012

By Sima Samar

Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world, and one in four children who succumb before the age of five dies from a preventable disease.

Women’s health is closely linked to peace.

There have been few women in leadership positions in the government. If women are not part of the decision-making process, then women’s problems will not likely be addressed.


Sima Samar was born in Jaghoori, Ghazni, Afghanistan, and practiced medicine at a government hospital in Kabul. In 1984, she fled for safety to Pakistan, where she worked as a doctor at the refugee branch of the Mission Hospital. In 1989, she founded the Shuhada Organization in Quetta, dedicated to providing health care to refugee Afghan women and girls, training of medical staff, and to education. Shuhada now runs four hospitals, twelve clinics and sixty schools in Afghanistan. Samar is chairper-son of the Afghanistan Independent Human rights Commission and has been the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Sudan since 2005.

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