Dr. Saniha Amin Zaki, a leading Iraqi physician, passed away last week. She was born in 1920 in Baghdad to an Iraqi family of Arab, Kurd and Turkman heritage.
She was a pioneer in medicine and the second Iraqi woman to enter medical school. After the establishment of the Iraqi government in the year 1921, Iraq underwent rapid change, embracing education, modernization, and ambitious concepts of personal freedom and the advancement of women. Many Iraqi women followed Dr. Saniha’s lead in mid-century, attending university and graduating as doctors, lawyers, and architects.
In 1943 Dr. Saniha graduated from the School of Medicine in Baghdad University. She earned a Master’s degree in Medicine from the University of London in 1965 and was Professor of Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Baghdad.
She was a believer in education for women, and the right of women to professional and personal self-fulfillment. She stands as a noteworthy role model for women in Iraq today, who in a reversal of decades of progress, endure discrimination, exclusion and gender-motivated violence unlike anything seen in previous eras.