Prize for Afghan Woman Who Transforms Lives

Prize for Afghan Woman Who Transforms LivesPrize for Afghan Woman Who Transforms Lives

Sakeena Yacoobi has touched the lives of more than 12 million people with her tireless efforts to transform education in Afghanistan. Now her work has been recognized at the World Innovation Summit for Education in Doha where she was awarded this year’s WISE Prize.

Empowering women, creating schools, changing lives are just some of the reasons she was awarded the $500,000 WISE Prize. As the founder of the Afghan Institute for Learning she has dedicated her life to improving education and healthcare, with a special focus on girls and women. She ran secret classes under the Taliban regime and has since gone on to open private schools, a hospital and even a radio station, euronews reported.

During the Taliban rule, Dr. Yacoobi founded the Afghan Institute of Learning, providing education and teacher training to women and children. Now, her NGO helps over 350,000 women and children each year to gain skills and become economically independent.

Every woman must be self-sufficient, must be empowered, she told euronews. At least 480 people, mostly women, work for the AIL, which has opened up to 340 learning centers to date.

“Education gives you power, status, and I see that these women are smart, intelligent, but they didn’t have opportunities,” said Yakoobi.

In addition to the regular curriculum, pupils also learn valuable leadership skills. The schools are funded through donations and fees, if parents can’t afford them, their children get scholarships.

Yakoobi said education needs to evolve in Afghanistan: “I want them to do critical thinking. I want them to ask questions. I want them to feel free in the classroom. If a teacher goes in the class with love, with passion, with wisdom, that teacher can reach a child much better than one who is very harsh.”

She feels a duty to help rebuild her country: “I remember Afghanistan as a child, it was a beautiful country, but today we completely demolished all our natural beauty. Because of that I feel that this is my duty, this is my responsibility.”

Yacoobi’s NGO has also trained nurses, midwives and other health workers to provide health education in public hospitals. Her next goal is to open a university in Afghanistan.