Shabana Basij-Rasikh discusses efforts to educate women in Afghanistan

NEWPORT, R.I. – Imagine a country where girls must sneak out to go to school, with deadly consequences if they get caught learning. This was Afghanistan under the Taliban and traces of that danger remain today. Shabana Basij-Rasikh, co-founder of the School of Leadership Afghanistan, will discuss the effort to educate Afghanistan’s women when she presents a free, public lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 in the Bazarsky Lecture Hall on the campus of Salve Regina Univeristy.

The School of Leadership Afghanistan is a boarding school that provides exceptional educational opportunities for a new generation of Afghan women. The school places special emphasis on fostering a resourceful learning environment and building a transformative future for women and Afghanistan.

Basij-Rasikh was born and raised in Kabul, where she began her secondary education at Maryam High School. After finishing high school in Wisconsin through the Youth Exchange and Studies program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, she attended Middlebury College, graduating magna cum laude, and studied Arabic and Islamic law at Alexandria University in Egypt.

While in college, Basij-Rasikh founded HELA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Afghan women through education. She also raised funds to build a high school for girls in her ancestral village and wells in the outskirts of Kabul to give communities access to clean drinking water.

An enthusiast of systemic change and community impact, Basij-Rasikh was named one of Glamour magazine’s Top 10 College Women of 2010 and received the Vermont Campus Compact’s 2011 Kunin Public Award for outstanding public service, effective leadership and community-building. She currently serves as the national gender mainstreaming adviser at the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in Kabul.

Part of International Education Week activities, Basij-Rasikh’s lecture is sponsored by the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, the offices of Academic Affairs, International Programs, Multicultural Programs and Student Activities, and the global studies program.