Dr. Sakena Yacoobi – Executive Director, Afghan Institute of Learning
This was the final presentation of the ATWS in Scotland. It followed the title Inspire, and it was a breathtaking intervention with a lot of emotion and value. Truly inspiring!
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi is Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), an Afghan women-led NGO she founded in 1995. Established to provide teacher training, education and health services to women and children, over 7 million have benefited from AIL’s programs to date. Sakena’s vision of a healthier Afghanistan evolved after watching her mother give birth to 15 children, only to have 5 children survive. Under Sakena’s leadership, AIL has established itself as a visionary organization which works at the grassroots level and empowers women and communities to bring education and health services to poor rural and urban girls and women, as well as other disenfranchised Afghans. AIL was the first organization to offer human rights and leadership training to Afghan women in the 1990s. AIL supported 80 underground home schools for 3000 girls in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. AIL was first to open Women’s Learning Centers for Afghan women—a concept now copied by many organizations throughout Afghanistan. Dr. Yacoobi has received multiple recognition-of-service awards in Afghanistan.
Who she is:
Not much more can be said to this introduction. She was the first in her family to be able to go to university in the US, when she finished and wanted to go back to Afghanistan but the border was closed. When she finally was able to go back to her house, she created a learning center for women, which was illegal at the time.
She told some stories that she has to live through, this is an example:
One day while travelling as of any other day she got stopped by a line of armed men with riffles. When she saw the line of men in the middle of the road that she travelled every day, she was very afraid for her life and those on board the truck. The young men aged between 16-22 years wanted her to get out of the vehicle. The people inside requested for her to stay but she knew they were all in danger if she did not do what they said. Finally when she confronted the men they told her that they wanted education and they would stop her every day until she accepted, they knew that she had a school. She said she will try to look for a solution, even though the school was for women and that she had no means to take care of them. When she got to the school the phone rang and it was from the aid program, she explained what had happened to her that morning and they told her they would take care of them too. Finally next day when she was stooped she told them she would teach them to write and read but on the condition that they would come every day, clean and behave correctly. After 4months in the program they had learned to read and write and today they are their guides and protect her.
This is a true story and shows the feelings and how everybody wants to learn and be educated. They wanted to improve their life and change, education as a means of transformation and growth.
Another story was that of a young girl who wanted to go to school to read. She was told by her parents that the only way to go to school was if she woke up at 4 o’clock and did her labor before leaving every morning. For the first 4 months she did not speak a word but from the work she was doing by knitting she could pay his brother to do her work at home and take care of her 3 children. By the age of 22 she had become the leader of the local center with 300 women under her training, and people come and ask her for advice. She has become an important figure in her village and people come to her for advice. She is in the local council and is spreading the word to other areas.
This is an example of how empowerment of women thorough education can lead to development.
Finally she told us that her main aim is to make the world and the afghan women aware that they are individuals and that they can do anything they set to do. She is doing a great work in developing a women liberal right movement in Afghanistan and creating leader in that country. Empowering women in a very complicated country.
Best is to listen to her:
Do you think it´s an inspiring story?
After hearing this incredible story that I feel charged up with positive energy and feel to continue with our mission of achieving sustainable development in the region of la Vera through the promotion of responsible tourism.