Saleema Rehman is a 29-year-old Afghan refugee, living and practicing medicine in Pakistan. She is the 2021 Regional Winner for Asia of the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award. As an Afghan refugee, she faced significant barriers in her quest to become a medical doctor. She struggled to gain the support of her community to pursue her dreams, largely due to traditional norms regarding girls’ education. Nevertheless, in 2009, she beat the odds by securing the only seat reserved annually for an Afghan refugee in a medical college in Pakistan’s Punjab province. In 2014, she completed her five-year bachelor's degree in Medicine and Surgery, and upon graduation she became the first-ever female Afghan refugee doctor of Turkmen origin. Women’s health is also a passion of Dr. Saleema’s. Recently, she completed a specialization in gynaecology and obstetrics.
Ms. Rehman life and work have marked her out as a changemaker within the Afghan refugee community. It is an inspiration to other girls and has helped shift traditional attitudes towards girls’ education.
“Whether I am in Afghanistan, Pakistan or anywhere else, I want to serve humanity with my whole heart,” says Dr. Saleema.