Dr. Sakena Yacoobi


Dr. Sakena Yacoobi is one of the most powerful leaders in women’s education globally.
Image: Inkyhack / Flickr CC

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi is an incredibly passionate leader. The founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning, Yachoobi is one of the most powerful forces fighting for women’s education around the world.

Dr. Yacoobi explains how“Education is the key to improving women’s lives. Educating a girl, transforms her life and life of her family, changing a community and through that you change a nation for the better,” and such is the philosophy that drives the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL). Founded in 1995 by Dr. Yacoobi, AIL is a women-run, non-government organization that is committed to bringing peace and dignity to the Afghan people as they struggle to overcome poverty, oppression, and other social injustices. Although AIL is women run, and supports equal education for boys and girls, it caters to all people – women, girls, men, and boys – who are disadvantaged in some way.

The success and international recognition that the organization has achieved is a testament to Dr. Yacoobi’s enduring commitment to raising people up, creating accessible education, and ending systemic social injustices. She says, “When you work at the grass roots level, working with all kinds of people – that power of people will never be matched by anything else.” Knowing fully that the fight for equal access to education is far from over, Dr. Yacoobi continues to immerse herself in her work, and has been globally recognized for her efforts to improve the lives of Afghan people.

Dr. Yacoobi has been honored with numerous awards for her efforts as a leader in education; she, like Malala Yousafzai, has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, as well as other honors that span continents. In 2009, Marie-Josee Kravis (formerly Marie-Josee Drouin) presented Dr. Yacoobi with the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership for her outstanding work, and the following year she was awarded with Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human rights. She has been honored with the Global Hero Award, the German Media Award, and the World’s Children Prize honorary award, just a handful of the many accolades and honors she has earned.

Learn more about Dr. Sakena Yacoobi’s efforts to achieve equal education and justice at AIL’s official website.