Sakena Yacoobi has fought her whole life to fulfil Afghan children‘s and women’s right to education, healthcare and to learn about their rights.
As a young girl, Sakena was the only girl in her class. She thought to herself, “Why can’t girls go to school?” When war hit Afghanistan, Sakena was studying in the USA. She wanted to return home and help those worst affected by the war – women and children. When girls were banned from attending school, she opened secret schools.Nearly 30 years later, Sakena is still fighting for Afghanistan’s children. More than 700,000 of them have received education and healthcare through Sakena and her organization, AIL.
Sakena founded her organization, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in 1995, during times of oppression and intense conflict. The Taliban regime had banned girls from going to school. But Sakena opened 80 secret schools, trained teachers, and created secret mobile school libraries. Today, Sakena and AIL run hundreds of schools, health clinics, and hospitals in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and have trained 19,000 teachers. Through Sakena’s work more than 5.5 million Afghan children have gained new opportunities and faith in the future, despite extreme poverty and 30 years of war in Afghanistan.
Sakena was honoured by The World’s Children’s Prize Foundation in 2012 for her long and dangerous struggle to fulfill Afghan children‘s and women’s right to education, healthcare and to learn about their rights.