Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an Afghan female education activist, believes the best future for Afghans lies with educating the younger generations, both boys and girls.
Ms. Basij-Rasikh will be the keynote speaker at the Williston Northampton School’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day assembly on Monday, January 20.
In a 2012 TED talk Ms. Basij-Rasikh recalled the morning she was told she could openly attend school as a girl. Under Taliban rule she was forced to attend school in secret, putting her family in great danger. For five years she would dress in boy’s clothes and escort her older sister to a secret school where more than 100 students were packed into a living room.
“I was very lucky to grow up in a family where education was prized and daughters were treasured,” she said. “To [my father] there was a greater risk in not educating his children.”
Ms. Basij-Rasikh graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury College and was the first woman to attend college in her family. When she returned to Afghanistan she co-founded the School of Leadership Afghanistan, SOLA, a boarding school for girls in Afghanistan.
“To me, Afghanistan is a country of hope and boundless possibilities,” said Ms. Basij- Rasikh, “and every single day the girls of SOLA remind me of that. Like me, they are dreaming big.”