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Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL)

By Zuhra Abhar

Ms. Sakena Yacoobi, Founder & Executive Director
Afghan Institute of Learning (
Established in Peshawar, Pakistan in 1995

AIL’s top priorities are providing quality education and healthcare to all who seek it, quality training, including capacity building, leadership and human rights workshops, teacher training and health workshops, reviving the arts and culture of Afghanistan, and teaching about peace and forgiveness.

Afghan Women Leaders Connect has supported AIL’s work since 2002, when at that time the young organization was opening an office in Kabul and converting offices in Herat and Jalalabad into formal presences, no longer subject to a Taliban ban. Since then, Connect has supported a myriad of AIL’s programs for several years across Afghanistan, including teacher training, a preschool, fast track classes to mainstream older girls who had lost years of schooling under Taliban restrictions, literacy classes, health clinics and skills training programs for self-employment.
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A Talented Young Woman, Arezo Qanih

By Zuhra Abhar

Ms. Arezo Qanih, Program Manager of the Educational Training Centre for Poor Women and Girls of Afghanistan ( has been engaged in the protection of women’s rights since the early age of 12 years old.

Ms. Arezo remembers that as a little girl who joined ECW alongside her mother, Ms. Malika Qanih (ECW’s Founder and Director), she was shocked by the lack of opportunities for women in Afghanistan and their lack of financial independence.

Ms. Arezo says:

“Women were trapped between four walls. They had nothing to do all day and did not know how to support themselves financially. The center was meant to be a junction for women to learn from each other.” In its first year, ECW assisted 500 women who attended sessions and shared their experiences and ideas.
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Ms. Sakena Yacoobi: Top Educator, Strategic Thinker and Organization Builder

By Zuhra Abhar

“I believe education is the foundation for rebuilding our nation . . . We are going to continue to provide teacher training. The government of Afghanistan needs our help. We are going to work with them as a partner,” Ms. Sakena remarked recently to Connect.

Ms. Sakena is an internationally recognized teacher trainer, educator, and provider of health services to Afghan women and girls. Ms. Sakena and the Afghan Institute of Learning (

The organization she founded, have been awarded the Women’s Rights Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation and the Peacemakers in Action award of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. Ms. Sakena obtained a B.Sc. in biological sciences and a master’s degree in public health in the U.S. and is a spokeswoman at major conferences around the world.
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