Afghan leader to speak to students, deliver lecture in Portland

Dr. Sima Samar, a renowned human rights and women’s rights advocate from Afghanistan, will visit Portland on March 17-19, as part of the Justice for Women Lecture Series hosted by the University of Maine School of Law.

Dr. Samar will participate in a number of community events to discuss her work in Afghanistan and strategies to promote justice for women and girls around the world.

Since 2004, Dr. Samar has served as chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She is also founder of the Shuhada Organization, dedicated to the welfare and progress of Afghan citizens, with a primary focus on the empowerment of women and children. The organization operates dozens of schools and 15 clinics and hospitals. Dr. Samar served in the Interim Administration of Afghanistan and established the first-ever Ministry of Women's Affairs. She is a recipient of the Profile of Courage Award, and is one of the central subjects of the 2004 documentary, Daughters of Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, March 18, Dr. Samar will speak at Deering High School to an assembly of students from all three of the city’s high schools. Portland Mayor Michael Brennan will present Dr. Samar with a key to the city at 9:30 a.m. At 1:30 p.m., Dr. Samar will give a presentation to other local high school students, college students and community members at CIEE in Portland.

Also on March 18, Dr. Samar will deliver the University of Maine School of Law’s third annual Justice for Women Lecture, titled “Women’s Rights in Afghanistan.” The event will be held at 7 p.m. at the Abromson Community Education Center, 88 Bedford St. With more than 500 people registered to attend, the event is filled to capacity. However, there is limited space in an overflow room, where the lecture will be live-streamed. Those interested in reserving a seat should contact the Dean’s Office at, or 207-780-4344.

On Wednesday, March 19, the University of Maine School of Law will host a lunchtime panel at 12:10 p.m. titled “Afghanistan Futures: Local and Global.” Panelists will include Dr. Samar; Bill Nemitz, columnist for the Portland Press Herald, who recently traveled to Afghanistan on assignment; and Tom Barfield, a professor of anthropology at Boston University. The discussion will be moderated by Maine Law Professor Charles Norchi, who has worked extensively in Afghan matters. The event will be in the Moot Court Room at the Law School, 246 Deering Ave, in Portland.

The University of Maine School of Law is committed to promoting social justice in Maine and around the world. The Law School established the Justice for Women Lecture series in 2010 with leadership and support from attorney and civic leader Catherine Lee. The Lecture Series is supported in part by the generosity of community partners, including CIEE, and other donors.

Previous lecturers were the Hon. Unity Dow (2012), the first woman to serve as a judge on Botswana’s High Court; and Leymah Gbowee (2013), an activist and women’s rights advocate who won a Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end civil war in Liberia.

Learn more at “Justice For Women Lecture Series” on Facebook. For information about supporting the series, please email the law school at

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