Fellow Since 2006
This profile was prepared when Sakena Yacoobi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Sakena founded the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in 1995 as a way to implement her dynamic, systemic approach to social change. AIL bases its services on several basic tenets: it aims to be responsive to the needs communities express themselves, rather than imposing solutions on them; it includes people from a variety of backgrounds; it works to establish trust; it requires communities to contribute to the projects it undertakes.Although traditional Afghan village social structures, gender roles, and religious beliefs often actively discourage the education of women, Sakena harnesses these very institutions to establish interactive programs in education, health, human rights, peace education, environmental awareness, democracy, and income generation. Using innovative teaching methodology, and a receptive approach to community engagement, she is setting a sustainable and practical course for women’s progress.