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Afghans' women Hero

The woman who I pride on her is:
Prof. Sakena Yacoobi is Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), an Afghan women-led NGO she founded in 1995. AIL believes that educated people are the key to a future, developed Afghanistan. With that in mind, AIL works to empower all Afghans who are needy and oppressed by expanding their education and health opportunities and by fostering self-reliance and community participation. AIL’s goals are to lay a foundation for quality education and health for years to come and to provide comprehensive education and health services to Afghan women and children, so that they can support and take care of themselves.
The organization was established to provide teacher training to Afghan women, to support education for boys and girls, and to provide health education to women and children. Prof. Sakena’s leadership AIL has established itself as a groundbreaking, visionary organization which works at the grassroots level and empowers women and communities to find ways to bring education and health services to rural and poor urban girls, women and other poor and disenfranchised Afghans. AIL was the first organization to offer human rights and leadership training to Afghan women. AIL supported 80 underground home schools for 3000 girls in Afghanistan after the Taliban closed girls’ schools in the 1990s. AIL was the first organization that opened Women’s Learning Centers for Afghan women—a concept now copied by many organizations throughout Afghanistan.
Afghan women have learned how to advocate for their basic, human rights and developed leadership skills through the Afghan Institute of Learning’s Human Rights and Leadership Workshops and its news Democracy Workshops. Human Rights Workshops are culture-based, grassroots-oriented, participatory, and dialogical. The workshop relates the struggle to eliminate violence (of all types) against women in Muslim societies to empowering women. Women develop skills in communication and preventing violence against themselves and knowledge to affect positive change within their families. Leadership Workshops provide culturally-sensitive training that enhances women’s leadership skills, empowering them to participate in local, regional, and global decisions. During Leadership Workshops, women use scenario-based materials to cultivate leadership skills that are horizontal, inclusive, and participatory. AIL has trained over 6,000 Afghan women and several hundred men in Leadership and Human Rights. Empowered by Leadership and Human Rights workshops, women now ask for more Women’s Learning Centers, take literacy courses, and stand up to abuse. Because of the positive effect of the leadership training, AIL has been asked to train Afghan parliamentarians and government officials.
Through its teacher training and school support program, AIL provides assistance and an administrative structure to schools and home schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This has been an invaluable service for tens of thousands of Afghan children whose education was interrupted by the war and civil strife in Afghanistan. School support includes teacher training, onsite monitoring and supervision of teachers, teachers’ salaries, administrative support, and provision of school materials and supplies. Teachers are trained to use interactive, student-centered teaching techniques. AIL continues to support refugee schools in Pakistan with over 2,000 Afghan students and advanced classes for over 2,000 children each month in rural Afghanistan in addition to its Women’s Learning Centers. AIL provides pre-school education to about 300 students and trains its pre-school teachers to teach very young children over nineteen curricular topics. Since 1996, 234,000 women and children have been educated in AIL schools and learning centers
Afghan women have learned how to advocate for their basic, human rights and developed leadership skills through the Afghan Institute of Learning’s Human Rights and Leadership Workshops and its news Democracy Workshops. Human Rights Workshops are culture-based, grassroots-oriented, participatory, and dialogical. The workshop relates the struggle to eliminate violence (of all types) against women in Muslim societies to empowering women. Women develop skills in communication and preventing violence against themselves and knowledge to affect positive change within their families. Leadership Workshops provide culturally-sensitive training that enhances women’s leadership skills, empowering them to participate in local, regional, and global decisions. During Leadership Workshops, women use scenario-based materials to cultivate leadership skills that are horizontal, inclusive, and participatory. AIL has trained over 6,000 Afghan women and several hundred men in Leadership and Human Rights. Empowered by Leadership and Human Rights workshops, women now ask for more Women’s Learning Centers, take literacy courses, and stand up to abuse. Because of the positive effect of the leadership training, AIL has been asked to train Afghan parliamentarians and government officials.

In addition to skills training, Afghan women are eager to return to school after years of having no opportunity to learn. After years of war, the literacy rate of Afghan females is among the lowest in the world. Widows and poor women wish to become literate. Older girls, who were prevented from attending school, want to learn on an accelerated basis and study with girls their own age. Women, who were forced to marry young and stop their schooling, want to finish their education. In response to these needs, WLCs offer women and girls Fast Track classes that allow them to study on an accelerated basis to complete grade certificates, learn subjects like English and computers in enrichment classes, and/or learn basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. Some younger girls study in fast track programs, complete
AIL has begun providing training and seed grants to community-based Afghan educational organizations to improve their management, implement interactive teaching methods, and increase their student enrollment, particularly for female students. Currently, of the centers that AIL supports, 90% are community-based organizations (CBO). The CBOs include schools, women’s learning centers, educational learning centers and health centers. AIL teacher training staff visit the organizations regularly and provide their teachers and staff with needed training. AIL also provides needed materials and supplies to the centers. Before AIL started supporting the Lolenge Educational Center, they had no black board, chalk, chairs, tables, or books. This important project is dedicated to building the base of local non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan that will continue to meet the health and education needs of Afghan women and children for generations. With training and assistance from AIL, these organizations are developing the capacity to provide quality services independently.
AIL has four basic health clinics and mobile health clinics that serve over 10,000 Afghans each month with health services. The clinics also provide health education to over 10,000 women and children each month. Since 1996, AIL has provided health services to 1 million women and children and health education to 1.6 million women. Women and children come to the health clinics for medical examinations, midwifery services, reproductive health care, nursing services, nutrition services, and vaccinations. Women are also taught health lessons about reproductive health, hygiene, the proper use of medicine, disease prevention, and other topics. Afghan women have the highest maternal mortality rate in the world and one of the highest child mortality rates. AIL’s clinics are helping thousands of women each year to deliver healthy babies safely through their focus on reproductive health, including pre and post-natal care and baby delivery.
Afghan women started and grew the Afghan Institute of Learning, The successes of the Afghan Institute of Learning and the organization’s ability to expand and respond with immediacy to needs identified at the grassroots level, demonstrate just how powerful impact Afghan women can have when they are empowered through education. AIL will persist in its efforts to reach even more underserved women and children, especially in rural areas. AIL remains committed to empowering women and communities through training that helps them develop skills to manage and sustain needed health and education programs themselves. AIL will also continue its model programs which are setting a new standard of quality for NGO services in Afghanistan and are demonstrating the powerful impact that high-quality programs can have. Through this combination of short and long term strategies, AIL is forging ahead in its efforts to achieve a new beginning for Afghanistan.
This is not an story that Prof. Sakena Yacoobi though AIL is doing all these things for Afghan women and children, I am the proof of it, because I am working in this organization since 2005 and I am priding that I am one of the employees of Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL)

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