Against great odds, Sakena Yacoobi has mobilized people, resources, donors and even some hard line opponents to create educational opportunities for women and girls in Afghanistan. During the Taliban regime, Sakena and the organization she leads, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), created and managed a network of underground home schools for girls in Kabul, Herat and Logar. At the same time AIL was training teachers, shuttling mobile libraries between its secret schools, providing health services and building an income generation program for women.
A new 7-minute video funded by the Skoll Foundation captures AIL’s tireless journey and heroic achievements. Narrated by Sakena, with brief interviews with students and AIL staff in Afghanistan, the video presents a snapshot of the broader scope of services that AIL now provides to more than 350,000 women and children throughout Afghanistan.
Before founding GGP in 2005, Catherine Shimony and I each worked with AIL in our previous positions with other international grantmaking organizations. AIL’s hand-embroidered fair trade bags and wallets were among the first products we offered. Its product line has expanded to include beautifully crafted bookmarks and accessories. GGP remains the only US outlet for AIL products and expanded sales have continued to generate increased revenue for AIL’s women artisans.
Joan Shifrin is co-founder of Global Goods Partners.