An Afghanistan Woman’s Journey


Banu Shekardokht, a doctor (in the field of Avicenna’s medical legacy), researcher, mother, inventor… a symbol of resilience and courage.

In a series introducing pioneering and exemplary Persian-speaking women! This time, the focus is on Banu Shekardokht, a doctor (in the field of Avicenna’s medical legacy), researcher, mother, inventor… a symbol of resilience and courage.

Today, we talk about a woman who, amidst the flames of war raging all around in the distant mountains of Dykandi, opened her eyes to the world. She spent her childhood in the realm of migration and statelessness in Iran, and upon her return to her homeland, she transformed into one of its true treasures.

Yes, we are talking about Banu Shekardokht Jafari. This lady, full of passion, after completing her higher education in Iran, laid the foundation for modern radiology in Afghanistan and became a professor at Kabul Medical University before joining the University of Sari in England to pursue further studies. She proudly holds the distinction of two remarkable and valuable inventions on a global scale, as well as the publication of dozens of scientific articles in the field of cancer research and treatment.

The eternal power seemed to have knotted the fate of this woman with cancer from the very beginning of her life. She loses her father to this disease and subsequently battles it herself. The courage and steadfastness of Banu lie in the fact that, even with the responsibilities of motherhood, she never once neglected the path of research and discovery for saving humanity from this deadly disease. While a significant majority of people on Earth surrender upon hearing the name of this affliction and succumb to a grim fate, she resolutely walks on, fighting and researching for ways to conquer it. Indeed, the life experiences of individuals have a profound impact on shaping their personalities, and this is vividly evident in the journey of this woman. Born into an environment filled with inequalities, suffocation, and baseless oppression, her experiences of childhood migration and continuing education under migrant conditions in Iran, accompanied by an array of day-to-day challenges and hardships, have forged her personality in the fiery furnaces of determination, much like tempered steel. She has emerged as a scholarly, compassionate, and diligent personality.

During the twenty-year period of the Karzai-Ahmadzai rule, despite the involvement of all nations and staggering aid to our country, and despite thousands of patients lacking access to treatment every year, and those who were financially capable wandering to India and Pakistan seeking care, the government failed to establish even one standardized cancer treatment center. However, the discovery of “Ala” – the apparatus for precise measurement of radiation for cancer patients – bears the name of this woman. This stands as a notable example of the bravery of a woman who seeks to challenge patriarchal norms, social inequalities, and various forms of superiority complexes using her knowledge and wisdom. She aims to bring the legitimacy of the relentless day-and-night efforts to the heart of society and shatter the baseless barriers that prevent the endeavors of the underprivileged.

Banu Shekardokht Jafari, with her tireless efforts, was honored with the 2016 Women Innovators Award in England. With the monetary prize of this award, she carried out the industrialization phase of her scientific research results, successfully creating the first industrial prototype of the apparatus for standardized radiation measurement for cancer patients. Currently, she serves as a member of the scientific staff at the University of Sari, England, and continues to live with her family in the UK. Hopefully, due to her service to the oppressed people of our country in the field of cancer treatment, the healthcare system of Afghanistan will acknowledge and utilize the power and capability to attract and utilize scientific efforts, much like these elite individuals, and benefit from their scientific contributions.

Faramarzi Hemiyari Persian Speakers’ Association

Friends who are interested in their new book can purchase it through the Amazon link.
Afghanistani Woman’s Journey: From Refugee to Cancer Pioneer