Shabana Basij-Rasikh

The woman who dared to educate Afghan girls


Shabana Basij-Rasikh is the Co-founder and President of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan - ‘SOLA’, a nonprofit dedicated to providing Afghan girls a rigorous education that promotes critical thinking, a sense of purpose and respect for self and others.

Shabana was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. Under the Taliban, she dressed as a boy to escort her older sister to a secret school, with dire consequences if they were caught.

She attended a high school in America under the YES exchange program, and graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont. 

During college, she founded ‘HELA’, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Afghan women through education. 

She also raised funds through foundations and public talks across the US to build a high school for girls in her ancestral village and to build wells on the outskirts of Kabul to give communities access to clean drinking water.

Upon graduating, Shabana returned to Kabul to establish SOLA as Afghanistan’s first boarding school for girls. 

SOLA is paving the way by providing quality education to an underserved and underrepresented population, helping graduates enter universities worldwide.

Not only is the school unique, but SOLA’s students are as well. The students range from ages 11-19 and represent all major ethnic groups and religious sects. 

Awards and Accomplishments

Awards and Accomplishments

She has also been featured on the ‘Forbes 30 Under 30’ Asia list as a social entrepreneur for her work in promoting education for girls.

Shabana has joined ‘10×10: The Girls Education Project’ as a Global Ambassador, supporting a global action campaign that links nonprofits, corporations, philanthropists, policy leaders, global influencers and grassroots activists in a movement to support girls’ education.

In 2010, she was named one of Glamour Magazine’s ‘Top Ten College Women’ and In 2014, she was named an ‘Emerging Explorer’ by National Geographic. 

Why Shabana Basij-Rasikh ?

Shabana is an internationally recognised thought leader and speaker who can ignite the audience with a can-do spirit and the habits to make it happen. She is experienced in covering a range of hugely beneficial topics that make an influential impact on both individuals and groups. 

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