The words of Dr Sima Samar has Smiths Hill High School student Caitlin Turner believing one person, regardless of privilege, can change the world for the better.
‘’She has been part of creating the Independent Human Rights Commission in Afghanistan. She led the way there and now she is travelling the world talking about what she has done. The impact that she’s having in the world is just immeasurable,’’ the year 12 student said.
But it is the actions of the Chairwoman of the Independent Afghanistan Human Rights Commission, that have inspired a generation of women in her war-torn country to strive for a better life.
Yet Dr Samar’s efforts to effect positive change in Afghanistan was performed for many years from Pakistan, where she fled after her husband was arrested during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
Over the next 17 years she became a leader in educating Afghan women and girls, founding The Shuhada Organisation, which now operates 55 schools for girls and boys in Afghanistan and three schools for Afghan refugees in Quetta, Pakistan.
Dr Samar also founded the Gawharshad Institute for Higher Education in Kabul.
Australia’s indigo foundation is a partner of Gawharshad’s Women’s Empowerment Centre, and invited Dr Samar to come to Australia to tell her ‘’inspirational’’ story.
Indigo Foundation chairperson Sally Stevenson AM said it was important for Dr Samar to keep awareness going to promote human rights and women’s rights in Afghanistan.
‘’We also feel it’s important to support her tertiary institute [Gawharshad], which supports the education of marginalised young women,’’ Ms Stevenson said.
Dr Samar spoke to students at Smiths Hill High School on Tuesday morning before taking part in a ‘Human Rights and Gender Equality in Afghanistan’ conversation with Sally Stevenson at the University of Wollongong.
She told the Mercury one of her main aims was to inform the Australian public that everything in Afghanistan was not all ‘’black’’.
‘’There are a lot of good things happening. A lot of the young generation who are getting an education will be able to change the mentality to reduce the violence in the country,’’ Dr Samar said.
Dr Samar is living proof one person can make a positive difference regardless of their station in life.
As a woman and as a Hazara, one of the most persecuted minorities in Afghanistan, the odds were stacked against the 60-year-old from birth.
But she has put her life and liberty at risk throughout to be the voice of the disenfranchised.
‘’The promotion and protection of human rights is a shared responsibility,’’ Dr Samar said.
‘’I hope that the people in Australia continue to support Afghan people and particularly Afghan women in the country.
‘’We always appreciate your sacrifice and financial contribution.’’