On Wednesday July 14 Dr. Sima Samar, human rights activist and physician met with NGO representatives from Civil Society at a Round Table Hosted for CFUW by Amnesty International. A number of human rights and women’s groups were there including representatives from the Canadian Muslim community.
CFUW-Ottawa sponsored Dr. Samar’s visit to Canada, as part of the program for the CFUW AGM and Conference in Ottawa from July 16 to 18. Dr. Samar spoke candidly about her experiences and about the need for civil society as well as government engagement. She addressed issues relating to women’s rights and to the need for education in a country torn by thirty years of war since the time of the Soviet invasion, the rule of the Taliban and the War Lords.
Patricia DuVal, President of CFUW chaired the meeting and recognised all of the groups around the table.
On Tuesday, Dr. Samar was able to attend a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade – meeting first with senior bureaucrats and then with a wider group from CIDA and the Department of Foreign Affairs. She spoke about issues of corruption within government and the need to work towards a lasting peace. The Afghan Embassy hosted a further meeting for Aid Groups on Thursday morning.
Dr. Samar received an Honourary doctorate from Carleton University at a special ceremony on Thursday July 15. Upon receiving the degree she commented that she had never attended her own graduation ceremony, after receiving her medical degree from Kabul University – because of the political situation at the time.
Dr. Samar holds an honourary Order of Canada – the only non-Canadian to be so honoured. She was nominated for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, and has again been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Samar was the keynote speaker at CFUW’s Confederation Banquet – where once again she addressed the issues important to Aghanistan and the way to peace. Only when women are educated and become part of the peace process, will a lasting peace be possible.