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Podcast #2: Changing the World for Girls Series

©Courtesy of the Afghan Institute of Learning
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi looks over the work of several female students.

UNGEI is pleased to collaborate with Beyond School Books to launch the podcast series, Changing the World for Girls. This series highlights the lasting impact education has on girls, families, communities and nations around the world.

By Rudina Vojvoda

NEW YORK, United States of America, 8 March 2014 – International Women’s Day this year is celebrated under the theme “Equality for women is progress for all”. In this episode of “Changing the World for Girls”, we spoke to Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, an education pioneer and a true trailblazer in serving women and children despite long odds.

In 1995, Dr. Yacoobi founded and is currently president of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), an Afghan women-led organization that provides teacher training, supports education for boys and girls, and delivers health services and education to women and children. AIL believes to have touched the lives of 10 million people and is one the biggest humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan. In her conversation with UNICEF’s podcast moderator Alex Goldmark, Dr. Yacoob discussed the importance of education and the key elements to the AIL’s success.

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“When you educate the society you really transform lives”

Dr. Yacoobi is a strong believer in the transformational power of education. “AIL believes in education because we know that when you educate the society you really transform lives, you really bring on change and Afghanistan, more than every country in the world, needs to bring change to its civil society,” said Dr. Sakena.

The people of Afghanistan have been living in a state of conflict and instability for almost four decades. Fragile security combined with lack of infrastructure and cultural norms that oppose girls’ education resulted in some staggering figures: during Taleban rule only one million children, mostly boys, were enrolled in school. Today enrolment has jumped to 8 million but education still remains a dream for many Afghani girls.

Dr. Sakena’s organization is one of the few that managed to provide education for Afghan girls and women even under the Taleban rule. For Dr. Sakena the key to AIL’s success is working with the community and gaining their trust. “We are working according to the culture of Afghanistan, a country that has a tradition”, she said. “For example, if you are talking about gender equality or if you are talking about human rights and women’s rights, we chose quotations from the Koran directly because in the Koran it says that all human beings are equal”.

Dr. Sakena is very optimistic about the future of Afghanistan and the goal of achieving the Millennium Development Goals of universal primary education and gender equality. “I am very optimistic because we are getting there… Afghanistan has a wonderful future”, she said.

To conclude, Dr. Sakena called on the international community to support Afghanistan in building a peaceful and a prosperous society. “Let the people of the world know that the people of Afghanistan are not fighters and killers. They are loving people, they are peace lovers, and they want to bring peace to Afghanistan. They are smart as any citizen of any other country and they need help,” said Dr. Sakena.



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