Shabana Basij-Rasikh


Emerging Explorer

Picture of Afghan girls at school

Photograph by Jalil Rezayee

PIcture of Shabana Basij-Rasikh

Photograph by David LeRoy Hunsaker

Educator Shabana Basij-Rasikh was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. She attended high school in the United States through an exchange program and then earned her degree at Middlebury College in Vermont. During college, she co-founded School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA), a nonprofit to give young Afghans access to quality education abroad and jobs back home. She also founded HELA, a nonprofit organization to empower Afghan women through education. After graduating, she returned to Kabul to turn SOLA into the nation's first boarding school for girls. She is the president of the nonprofit school that provides college preparatory courses and helps graduates enter universities worldwide and return to substantive careers in Afghanistan, where students often become the first women to enter certain fields. SOLA has helped girls from dozens of provinces across the country access more than $7.7 million in scholarships.

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In Their Words

The most effective antidote to the Taliban is to create the best educated leadership generation in Afghanistan’s history. Our girls today—the women of tomorrow—will make it happen.

—Shabana Basij-Rasikh


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    Basij-Rasikh was six years old when the Taliban banned girls from school. She now helps young Afghan women access education worldwide.

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