Dr. Sakena Yacoobi
Founder and Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL)
As Founder and Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), Sakena Yacoobi has established herself as a visionary leader working at the grassroots level to bring education and health services to Afghan women and children. After the Taliban closed girls’ schools in the 1990s, AIL operated 80 underground home schools for 3,000 girls in Afghanistan.
AIL now serves 350,000 women and children each year through its Educational Learning Centers, schools, and clinics in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sakena, whose critical work has been featured in Nicholas Kristof’s Half the Sky, has been awarded the Opus Prize at Georgetown University (2013), the Afghan National Peace Award (2011), the Gruber Prize for Women’s Rights, and the Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2012, she was awarded the Worlds Children’s Prize for her work fighting for the rights of young children to be educated.