June 13, 2024 opinion

How human rights advocate Sima Samar inspired me to never give up

Swita in Afghanistan

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Sima Samar on October 2, 2012.

Picture by: Wikipedia

Sima Samar is a strong supporter and advocate for her people, and girls like me are continually inspired by her work to make our futures better.

People across Afghanistan admire her efforts to help and support girls and women. We are very proud of her and the great female leader she is.

Samar, born in 1957 in the Jaghori district, is an Afghan woman and human rights advocate, activist and social worker within national and international forums.

She established the first-ever Ministry of Women’s Affairs and was the chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She has held the positions of Special Envoy of the President of Afghanistan and State Minister for Human Rights and International Affairs. She was appointed as a member of both the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement and the High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation.

Samar, a Hazara woman, established the Gawharshad Institute of Higher Education, which has provided around 200 girls with scholarships to continue their education. Its Gender and Women’s Empowerment Center, which aims to ‘create greater space and opportunities for women’, is said to have directly supported these girls from deprived areas of Afghanistan to get into university.

Samar has received many awards for her work and been recognised across different countries. Among them is the Rights Livelihood Award, which she was given in 2012 for ‘her longstanding and courageous dedication to human rights, especially the rights of women, in one of the most complex and dangerous regions in the world’.

I am also a Hazara girl so Samar serves as an inspiration and motivates girls like me. She is beloved by many.

When my family and friends see her on social media and TV, they share how proud they are of having this type of person in our society, advocating for us. She makes many efforts to support her people, especially orphan children, girls who are unable to go to school, women who don’t have jobs, and poor people.

Her work and passion motivates me because she is strong, secure and energetic – things all girls should strive to be. The lessons that I have learnt from her include facing my problems head on and trying to find solutions to them, and the importance of hard work in the face of difficulties.

Read also:

A conversation with Sima Samar: Afghanistan’s first Minister of Women’s Affairs

When the new Taliban government came into power in Afghanistan in 2021, they bannedgirls from educational centres and school beyond the sixth grade. I was disappointed and depressed. I didn’t have any motivation to continue my lessons.

One afternoon when I was on social media, I read a post from people in contact with Samar, which shared motivational comments from her that people should never give up and not waste their time. I decided to continue my education and to try hard and push myself to achieve, despite the challenges.

Samar, as a hero for girls, is an example of good leadership. It is the ability to guide, motivate and influence a group of individuals or an organisation towards achieving a common goal.

Leadership involves taking charge, making decisions and inspiring others to follow. Leadership is not limited to specific roles or positions, it can be exhibited at various levels within a team, an organisation, or even in personal relationships.

Here are some of the main qualities that I think make a good leader:

Effective communication: Good leaders are able to communicate their ideas and expectations clearly and effectively. They listen actively, provide feedback and foster open lines of communication within their team. A good leader should nurture a strong relationship between themselves and their team.

Integrity: Leaders should demonstrate honesty. They should act as a role model and adhere to their own values, earning the trust and respect of their followers.

Delegation: Effective leaders know how to delegate tasks and responsibilities to others. Delegation empowers team members, develops their skills and enables the leader to focus on higher-level priorities.

Being a leader is not easy, although it is something many aspire to become. Part of this difficulty is, as a leader, becoming a role model for those around you, which can be a big responsibility.

Although most world leaders are men, and many women and girls might feel excluded from the opportunity to lead, both men and women can and should be successful leaders. I believe anyone with experience, bravery, skill and self-confidence can be a good leader, no matter their gender or background.

Girls can take note of these qualities and also look to the example of Samar, despite the restrictions they may face, to become great leaders.

Written by:




OXSFJ & LEARN Afghan Project

Illustrated by Yuliia Muliar

16 year-old Swita is a passionate journalism student learning under the partnership of The Oxford School for the Future of Journalism and LEARN Afghan with aims to pursue a future career within the field while motivating other girls towards their dreams.

She is very interested in literature, often reading biographies and motivational books. She also enjoys listening to and reading poetry.

Swita speaks Dari and English.

Due to security concerns the authors image and surname have been omitted

Edited by:


Camilla Savelieva

Economics editor

United Kingdom


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