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Dr Samar was the first Hazara woman to obtain a medical degree from Kabul University. After working in Kabul for a few months, from 1982, she was forced to flee to more remote areas where she continued to practise. In 1984 her husband was arrested by the Russians, he was never seen again.

She took her son and fled to Pakistan. There, she started the Shuhada Organisation, beginning with a clinic, for women and girls (largely refugees). This both cares for women and offered them medical training. She set up further branches across Afghanistan and travelled between the two countries. These clinics, and the schools she established in rural areas for young girls, also offered health education, family planning and basic literacy.

In 2002 she returned to Afghanistan and assumed the cabinet post for Women’s Affairs; death threats forced her to resign after only a few months.

Dr Samar refuses to accept that women must be kept in purdah (at home) or that they must wear a burqa.

Samar chairs the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).