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Outspoken : My fight for freedom and human rights in Afghanistan for readers of BECOMING, I AM MALALA and RISING HEART - Dr Sima Samar

Outspoken

My fight for freedom and human rights in Afghanistan for readers of BECOMING, I AM MALALA and RISING HEART

By: Dr Sima Samar, Sally Armstrong (As told to)

Paperback | 6 March 2024

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The inspiring memoir of the warrior for women who's defied the Taliban at every turn - doctor, public official, founder of schools and hospitals, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee

'I have three strikes against me. I'm a woman, I speak out for women, and I'm Hazara, the most persecuted ethnic group in Afghanistan.'

Dr Sima Samar has been fighting for equality and justice for most of her life. Born into a polygamous family, she learned early that girls had inferior status, and she had to agree to an arranged marriage if she wanted to go to university. By the time she was in medical school, she had a son, Ali, and had become a revolutionary. After her husband was disappeared by the pro-Russian regime, she escaped. With her son and medical degree, she took off into the rural areas - by horseback, by donkey, even on foot - to treat people who had never had medical help before.

Sima Samar's wide-ranging experiences both in her home country and on the world stage have given her inside access to the dishonesty, the collusion, the corruption, the self-serving leaders, and the hijacking of religion. And as a former deputy chair of the Interim Administration, she knows all the players in this chess game called Afghanistan. With stories that are at times poignant, at times terrifying, inspiring as well as disheartening, Sima provides an unparalleled view of Afghanistan's past and its present. Despite being in grave personal danger for many years, she has worked tirelessly for the dream she is convinced is an achievable one: justice and full human rights for all the citizens of her country.

About the Author

Sima Samar is a doctor for the poor, an educator of the marginalised and a human rights defender. She established and nurtured the Shuhada Organization that operated more than one hundred schools and dozens of hospitals and clinics. Samar served in the Interim Administration of Afghanistan and established the first-ever Ministry of Women's Affairs. From 2002-2019, she chaired the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, a commitment that has put her own life at great risk. Having served as the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan from 2005 to 2009, she was appointed in 2019 as a member of both the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement and the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation. She is currently a visiting scholar at Tufts University's Fletcher School.
Industry Reviews
"Breaking boundaries, Dr Samar's story is a powerful testament to the undaunted struggle for the rights of women and girls, and its pivotal role in the quest for change and justice" - Manal al-Sharif, bestselling author of Daring to Drive

"While so many champion the idea of universal human rights in Afghanistan, few have done more than Sima Samar to try to make them a reality. This book doesn't just ask for dignity and a future for Afghans, especially Afghan women, it demands it: sometimes through logic and law but often through the passionate insistence of the narrator that she, an Afghan woman, thinks, feels and dreams too. Highly recommended." - Ben Mckelvey, bestselling author of The Commando, Mosul and Find Fix Finish

"Afghanistan, often referred to as 'the graveyard of empires,' has been described and explained at length by foreigners, usually men. This book provides an illuminating view of contemporary - I hesitate to say modern - Afghanistan, from a woman who weaves the personal and the political into the story of her successes and dreams, but who never gives in to despair. Sima Samar's life and work stand in defiance to the dark rule of the Taliban, as a promise for a better future for all Afghans, even when the whole world seems to have abandoned them." - Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

" Outspoken is a book of miracles, large and small. It's a history book, an adventure story, a deeply personal memoir and an inspiring work that propels you from your couch into action. Dr. Sima Samar gives bravery a face, from the night she saw her first husband taken away to be killed, to the many nights she risked her own life to save others. Illuminating the darkness in Afghanistan's recent history, Outspoken provides astonishing insights and analysis. Honestly, I couldn't put it down." - Lisa LaFlamme, Journalists for Human Rights

"Outspoken invites the reader into the heart of a country, to witness its people's resilience and their strength. Despite the many treacherous paths Afghans have traveled over more than forty years of war, Sima Samar shows us the beauty of the Afghan soul and the wonder of Afghanistan. The very definition of courage, Sima Samar has fought tirelessly, through personal pain and tragedy, facing down successive repressive regimes - and even a few allied to the West - in her quest for justice. She is a hero indeed." Kathy Gannon, author of I Is for Infidel, former Associated Press news director

"For two decades, Sima Samar was the conscience of democratic Afghanistan - a physician, human rights advocate, institution-builder, and justice-seeker. She embodied the ideals of her country's revival after 2001 but paid a heavy price. Her story is essential and inspiring reading for all Americans, complicit as we are in a tragedy from which we must not turn away." - Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars

"In Outspoken, Sima Samar relates her lifelong struggles against patriarchy: as an Afghan girl, a medical doctor, a refugee in Pakistan who built hospitals and schools, a government official, and a human rights defender. Her story trenchantly illuminates what we must all learn from interventions in Afghanistan and serves as a warning to the world at a time when women's rights are under siege." - Emma Bonino, former EU commissioner and former foreign minister of Italy

"Outspoken is a must read for every woman - indeed for every person - who supports equality and human rights, especially for women and girls. Dr. Samar's life is an inspiration; she speaks truth to power and has repeatedly risked her life for doing so. Feminists worldwide can and must learn from her experiences." - Eleanor Smeal, president, Feminist Majority Foundation and publisher, Ms. Magazine

"Afghanistan's unsurpassably sad last half century ranks among the most dismal and disastrous episodes in all of human history. Sima Samar lived at the epicenter of this evil storm and has spent her life working tirelessly to improve the lives of her fellow Afghans, always holding on tenaciously to the hope for a better future. Outspoken is a book that is sobering, necessary - and absolutely riveting." - Paul Kennedy, former host of CBC Ideas

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