Afghan Institute of Learning Empowers Afghan Women

by Afghan Institute of Learning
Women in a workshop
Women in a workshop

Hello everyone! Thanks to you, our donors, AIL had a very successful 2013 in terms of bringing education and empowerment to Afghan women and girls. More than 9,800 female students took classes at AIL Learning centers, and over 7,000 were adolescent or teen girls. Popular classes included literacy, tailoring, computers, English, Arabic, math, and science. Your support really helped to make these classes available to the hungry minds of Afghan women, women who really want to become independent and start their own careers to provide for their families, or to become leaders in their communities.

Your support made AIL able to host many leadership workshops, which saw nearly 1,500 women participate. These leadership workshops provide young women with information on what makes a good leader, how to become empowered, and how to become a leader in the home and in their community.  Another 1,300 women took part in AIL’s numerous health workshops, including workshops for expectant mothers, nutrition education, and reproductive health, giving them knowledge and a say in matters of health.

One of the participants from a leadership workshop we held in December had this to say about her experience:

“Without any exaggeration, this workshop was the best, the most efficient, and excellent workshop that I have ever attended. This workshop was full of content and it made me aware that I could reach my full potential in order to be a good leader in the future. It encouraged me to use my capabilities. In the future I want to work on women against violation issues. I want to be a great leader among the women teach them awareness and importance of education.”

We would like to thank you so much for your support of the Empowers Afghan Women program. Without supporters like you, we couldn’t have accomplished what we have or what we plan to do in the future. Thank you!!

Women in a Leadership Workshop
Women in a Leadership Workshop

AIL’s mission is to empower women through education enabling women and girls to take control of their lives. Farzana is one of girls empowered by AIL.  Here is her story: 

My name is Farzana. I am 17 years old. I come from a poor family in Herat City. I had never had the chance to study in my childhood; the same with other girls my age. Before attending this literacy class, I was a student in sewing class. I heard about a literacy class and immediately enrolled my name in that class. I learned how to read and I learned social skills such as finding friends, contacting with members of family and community. I am going to talk with my father and persuade him let me go to school and make a bright future. I hate ignorance. I want to enjoy myself. I want to thank  AIL staff, especially experienced teachers, who helped me change my life."  

We thank you all for your generous support! Please take some time to check out our annual newsletter attached to this report. 


Dear GlobalGiving Donors,

Thank you so much for supporting the Afghan Institute of Learning’s (AIL) various projects on GlobalGiving. Over the years, the Global Giving donors have become invaluable to AIL. Through your generous support, AIL has been able to provide Afghans with education, health care, training and more.

It is your continued support that is now allowing AIL to evolve along with the young people of Afghanistan. We’d like to share with you the story of how one young woman’s life has been changed thanks to one of AIL’s programs:

I am a 19-year-old woman with two children. I had always wanted to go to school and learn to read, but there was not a school close to my home. It was not safe for me to try and travel to another village to go to school, but I always told myself that if I could go to school, I would be able to get a job and reach my goals.

It was painful to me when my brother learned to read and write, but I couldn’t. One day I watched some women and children who were going somewhere. When I saw that one of them was a woman who had an 8-year-old girl with her, I stopped her and said “Excuse me. Where are you going?” She answered, “A learning center has been established for illiterate women and their children recently. I am going to register myself and my children.”

When I heard this, I was so happy and I said to her, “Please wait a minute. I want to go with you and start to take classes too.” I joined them on their way to the learning center. When we arrived, I was so excited because I saw a lot of women there who had been learning.

Now, I can read and write and I can say proudly that I am literate. I have also learned to be healthy and to be a leader. I am reaching out and touching my wishes and goals. I thank AIL for this opportunity to reach my goals.

Thank you for the support that you give to AIL. We are so grateful to all of our supporters for their continued support of our projects on GlobalGiving. Thank you!

Women in an AIL Clinic
Women in an AIL Clinic

All of us at Creating Hope International (CHI) and the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) thank our donors for their support of Afghan women. Since January this year, our learning centers provided education in literacy, tailoring, English, Arabic, math, and science to 19,500 students, of which 13,600 were women and girls. Through June, some 1,620 women took part in educational workshops including topics in reproductive health, leadership, food preparation, and our expectant mother workshops. Over 700 of these women took part in teacher training workshops and seminars, bettering themselves as educators and leaders of their communities.

Educating women is one of the best ways to empower them because they gain self-determination. They gain the freedom to make their own decisions and they gain the skills needed to earn money for themselves and their families. Because of this, communities begin to see women as capable, fully-fledged members of society. This approach allows both the women getting an education and the communities to change their preconceived notions at the grassroots level.

In June, our Herat offices held a week long leadership workshop for 37 women, a majority of whom were university students in their late teens to mid-twenties. They discussed things such as what makes a leader, the difference between bureaucratic administration and leadership, how to share and build upon ideas, topics in social justice, and how leadership can make democracy work in communities. Going in, the women by and large did not know what leadership was; many assumed only people from a particular background or people with weapons could be real leaders. Coming out, the women had new outlooks of what it meant to be a leader.

Sahar, a young woman who took part in the workshop, said:

This workshop gave me new ideas toward a new thinking for a better life for me and my community. I feel more self-confident and sufficient in myself anymore. I learned there is no limitation for a woman to be a good leader.  I will not be shy anymore. As a good leader I am going to change my future." 

Sharifa, coming from a different background, had this to say:

"I am a tailor. Before I came to this workshop, I believed that a tailor doesn't need to be a leader. Leadership is only for a certain group of people in a community, but my mind has changed after this workshop. I learned to use my knowledge usefully and transfer it to others. I learned to observe mutual respect as a good leader in the community. Observing justice is another change that I feel in myself since attending the leadership workshop."

We hosted 16 of these leadership workshops through June, and we have scheduled an additional 21 over the next twelve months. Every day we are providing more and more opportunities for Afghan women to empower themselves and each other, be it through our learning centers in literacy and tailoring classes, through our leadership and reproductive health workshops, or through our clinics providing maternal and preventative care. Again, we want to thank you all so much for your support, we could not have accomplished what we have without you!

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi receiving her hood at Princeton
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi receiving her hood at Princeton

So many wonderful things have happened for the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in the last few weeks, and we’re very excited to share a few of them with you. 

First, on Tuesday the Executive Director of AIL, Sakena Yacoobi received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Princeton University. The official citation reads: 

With a profound reverence for the well-being of others, this visionary leader devotes her life to the empowerment of poor Afghan women and children. With an unwavering commitment to social justice, against all odds, and often at great personal risk, she built and sustains an institute that makes healthcare and education possible for the most vulnerable. It owes its success in establishing clinics, teaching children, and training educators and caregivers to the deep and lasting ties she has forged with the people she serves and with global communities of care. After decades of work, she is still creating hope, in her home country and throughout the world.

Additionally, AIL has had two articles posted at The Huffington Post. The first focuses on AIL’s belief that Education Is the Way to a Healthier Country

The second article details AIL’s Mobile Literacy Program, giving details of how adding texting to a traditional literacy curriculum helped to accelerate the pace of learning. 

Finally, tomorrow is a Global Giving Matching Day, and because AIL is a superstar partner, all donations will be matched at 50%! Matching will begin at 9:00 am EST and funds generally run out after just a few hours.To select a project that you might like to donate to, visit AIL’s page on GlobalGiving


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Organization Information

Afghan Institute of Learning

Location: Dearborn, Michigan - USA
Project Leader:
Sakena Yacoobi
Founder & CEO
Dearborn, Michigan United States