- Posted June 11, 2012 by
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HEROIC AFGHAN WOMEN’S RIGHTS LEADER HONORED IN UNITED STATES
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Acclaimed Founder of Afghan Institute of Learning,
Receives Prestigious Award for Her Innovative Work in Health & Education
June 2012, New York, NY: Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Founder and Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), received the prestigious Lotus Leadership Award from The Asia Foundation and The Lotus Circle in New York City for her groundbreaking and visionary work to bring education and health services to Afghan women and girls.
The ceremonies took place at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park and was hosted by award winning American TV journalist Lynn Sherr, best known as a correspondent for the ABC News magazine 20/20. Sherr hosted a panel that included Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Executive Director, Founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning, Dr. Isobel Coleman, Senior fellow and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at Council on Foreign Relations, Carol Yost, Director of Women’s Empowerment Program at The Asia Foundation.
Dr. Yacoobi Creates the AIL: During the mid-1990s, funding for education and health programs for Afghan refugees were cut as a result of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Yacoobi was determined to keep these programs functioning and founded the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in 1995. When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan and closed girls’ schools, Yacoobi and AIL supported 80 underground girls’ schools in four Afghan provinces.
Yacoobi Sets a Sustainable Course for Women’s Progress: Although traditional Afghan village social structures, gender roles, and religious beliefs often actively discourage the education of women, Dr. Yacoobi harnesses these institutions to establish interactive programs in education, health, human rights, democracy, and income generation to empower women. Using innovative teaching methodology, and a receptive approach to community engagement, she is setting a sustainable and practical course for women’s progress.
John Fahey, President and CEO of the National Geographic Society, was also cited with an award to recognize the 10th anniversary of the two organizations working in partnership to improve the lives of girls in Afghanistan through education and large-scale improvements to heavily damaged girls schools, including the famous Rabia-e-Balkhi Girls School and the Lama-e-Shaheed Girls School.
The Asia Foundation is the premier non-profit, non-governmental organization working to promote reform, development, equality, and prosperity in Asia; The Lotus Circle is a community of individuals working with The Asia Foundation to advance the rights, roles, and opportunities of women in Asia.