Dare to Educate Afghan Girls | Shabana Basij-Rasikh | TED Talks
Articles,  Blog

Dare to Educate Afghan Girls | Shabana Basij-Rasikh | TED Talks

Translator: Joseph Geni
Reviewer: Morton Bast When I was 11, I remember waking up one morning to the sound of joy in my house. My father was listening to BBC News on his small, gray radio. There was a big smile on his face which was unusual then, because the news mostly depressed him. “The Taliban are gone!” my father shouted. I didn’t know what it meant, but I could see that my father was very, very happy. “You can go to a real school now,” he said. A morning that I will never forget. A real school. You see, I was six when the Taliban took over Afghanistan and made it illegal for girls to go to school. So for the next five years, I dressed as a boy to escort my older sister, who was no longer allowed to be outside alone, to a secret school. It was the only way we both could be educated. Each day, we took a different route so that no one would suspect where we were going. We would cover our books in grocery bags so it would seem we were just out shopping. The school was in a house, more than 100 of us packed in one small living room. It was cozy in winter but extremely hot in summer. We all knew we were risking our lives — the teacher, the students and our parents. From time to time, the school would suddenly be canceled for a week because Taliban were suspicious. We always wondered what they knew about us. Were we being followed? Do they know where we live? We were scared, but still, school was where we wanted to be. I was very lucky to grow up in a family where education was prized and daughters were treasured. My grandfather was an extraordinary man for his time. A total maverick from a remote province of Afghanistan, he insisted that his daughter, my mom, go to school, and for that he was disowned by his father. But my educated mother became a teacher. There she is. She retired two years ago, only to turn our house into a school for girls and women in our neighborhood. And my father — that’s him — he was the first ever in his family to receive an education. There was no question that his children would receive an education, including his daughters, despite the Taliban, despite the risks. To him, there was greater risk in not educating his children. During Taliban years, I remember there were times I would get so frustrated by our life and always being scared and not seeing a future. I would want to quit, but my father, he would say, “Listen, my daughter, you can lose everything you own in your life. Your money can be stolen. You can be forced to leave your home during a war. But the one thing that will always remain with you is what is here, and if we have to sell our blood to pay your school fees, we will. So do you still not want to continue?” Today I am 22. I was raised in a country that has been destroyed by decades of war. Fewer than six percent of women my age have made it beyond high school, and had my family not been so committed to my education, I would be one of them. Instead, I stand here a proud graduate of Middlebury College. (Applause) When I returned to Afghanistan, my grandfather, the one exiled from his home for daring to educate his daughters, was among the first to congratulate me. He not only brags about my college degree, but also that I was the first woman, and that I am the first woman to drive him through the streets of Kabul. (Applause) My family believes in me. I dream big, but my family dreams even bigger for me. That’s why I am a global ambassador for 10×10, a global campaign to educate women. That’s why I cofounded SOLA, the first and perhaps only boarding school for girls in Afghanistan, a country where it’s still risky for girls to go to school. The exciting thing is that I see students at my school with ambition grabbing at opportunity. And I see their parents and their fathers who, like my own, advocate for them, despite and even in the face of daunting opposition. Like Ahmed. That’s not his real name, and I cannot show you his face, but Ahmed is the father of one of my students. Less than a month ago, he and his daughter were on their way from SOLA to their village, and they literally missed being killed by a roadside bomb by minutes. As he arrived home, the phone rang, a voice warning him that if he sent his daughter back to school, they would try again. “Kill me now, if you wish,” he said, “but I will not ruin my daughter’s future because of your old and backward ideas.” What I’ve come to realize about Afghanistan, and this is something that is often dismissed in the West, that behind most of us who succeed is a father who recognizes the value in his daughter and who sees that her success is his success. It’s not to say that our mothers aren’t key in our success. In fact, they’re often the initial and convincing negotiators of a bright future for their daughters, but in the context of a society like in Afghanistan, we must have the support of men. Under the Taliban, girls who went to school numbered in the hundreds — remember, it was illegal. But today, more than three million girls are in school in Afghanistan. (Applause) Afghanistan looks so different from here in America. I find that Americans see the fragility in changes. I fear that these changes will not last much beyond the U.S. troops’ withdrawal. But when I am back in Afghanistan, when I see the students in my school and their parents who advocate for them, who encourage them, I see a promising future and lasting change. To me, Afghanistan is a country of hope and boundless possibilities, and every single day the girls of SOLA remind me of that. Like me, they are dreaming big. Thank you. (Applause)


  • buddyrichrocks

    more people need to see this. there are people risking their lives to get an education. listen to the way she is speaking, her demeanour, her youth, the words she is saying and the heart behind it all….truly inspirational. Education, education, education!

  • Ryon L

    The physical harsh environment punishes the integrity of the body and spirit. Your physically and mentally altered to be like that. You were basically born into sin and you have to be able to look at yourself with critical eyes and chastise yourself. You admit to this by hiding your bodies. Your minds are too jaded to not hide from yourself. When you know why you are screwed up if frees you to self-correct your natural sinful tendencies. Some people live in Eden you chose not to be like Eden.

  • Awesta

    Show how Afghan women are talented, education is the key to success, do not beg for humanitarian support which will eventually end you up for slavery or being puppet, keep your identity and pride that our nation and our country has a history of 5000 yrs, only four decades we have been suffering the rest before we were a proud and educated nation, we will rise again inshallah

  • mansour ibn al andalus

    Imagine a country under collective rape. This was India under desorganized state. When even boys don't have acces easely to school in Afghanistan, why do you talk us of women ? Very strange your reasoning.

  • Yu Lee Ahn

    if there is one solid reason to hate the muslims its the way they treat women…all the warring and bombing and hating i really dont care its just politics to me…but when it comes to women grrr…it goes far beyond the clothes so many stuff is forbidden to women but allowed to men

  • Elyas Hamza

    Wake up who the fuck is talib who supports taliban it is all a game wich is arab world s supporting until now and west sleep or they know the money them quit

  • yousufj56

    Apparently 13 people are as dumb as you are. When kids are dying of hunger or dehydration or afraid that their going to be killed by a road side bomb, education may be a privilege for very few people. At a young age, these kids go out and work so they can help put food on the table. They have no time for education. What we need is the corrupt western devils to get out of our country and stop killing us by the thousands. The IMF does not help, it enslaves. You western scum of the earth!

  • yousufj56

    No. The western world is the problem, not the arabs. Afghanistan was doing amazing before the russians came in. And since that day, we have been in the mess we are today. And america and the other allied nations are making it even worse by destroying our infrastructure, killing us by the thousands and increasing the poverty rate.

  • Elyas Hamza

    I am not dumb ok nashonidi ki migoyad gandum royad jow ze jow bash ba hangame drow what is when pashtoon kild the children hazara when talib was in powered now they seeing the same thing and pashtoon is qume randa shoda and slive of arab , pakistan , and some others allah brings them in right way if not coming in right way allah take in their anger pressure you konw who doing soside now in afghanistan now all pashtoon and I tell you one more time open your mind and wake up it is 2013

  • Questionauthority chawasa

    @Rasul Alislam Like the Taliban. Did you hear what she said happened to her and her father? The Taliban is the religious authority in her country.

  • Elyas Hamza

    Allah distroy the fake islam which is the Taliban and their supporter and people who trying to stealing our baitolmal by the the name fake helping .and one day it well happens inshollah

  • Lucille de Lorme

    Think how blase English kids are about education. No way would they risk their lives for the chance of learning in a no doubt under resourced and overcrowded school. Keeping the populace, particularly women illiterate is the number one goal of a totalitarian regime. Education is the first and most vital step to escaping.

  • Rob Carson

    Allah isn't doing a very good job is he? Maybe he should wipe out Iran because aren't they the wrong flavor of Muslim's as well. But why stop there just wipe out all non believers and the religion of peace can rule the world

  • Rob Carson

    Apparently its 44 now. "They have no time for education" But the boys do. Maybe take the religious teaching out and replace them with something useful.

  • yousufj56

    Not even the boys. Watch a documentary and you'll see how the majority of them are spending time on the street selling products to help their families earn a living.

    Its a huge deal to graduate highschool.

  • ssssss133343

    Islam has nothing to do with the taliban, they are just a group of extremists who hold odd beliefs and brainwash people, I along side 99.999% of Muslims hate the taliban

  • ssssss133343

    The Taliban gains followers and supporters etc, through manipulation. They provide those who are poor with food and clothes for greed, they do this so they can gain more followers as these people who don't have much are uneducated and well think about it, if you were uneducated and starving and someone was to provide you with all that wouldn't you hold them up to be amazing people? (continutation from post below)

  • managahnabashem

    First of all, you should never try to bash somebody because of where they come from. Secondly, I don't think that Justin was saying anything wrong. I'm afghan and I agree with him. More of the population needs to become highly educated. Education shouldn't be a privilege, it should be a right and they should make time for it because that is what will help the country in the long term.

  • yousufj56

    Am i saying that education shouldnt be rampant? Im saying that first, you need to get the kids off the street. The kids miss school because they have to work to support their families. Its very obvious. This isn't a chicken or egg debate.

  • Doneda Callis

    Her eyes tell it all. It is absolutely spectacular to listen to her story, and to feel what she feels as she speaks. She's phenomenal. Thank you for sharing.

  • Ramchandra poudel

    My chubby uncle managed to make the hottest pole dancer I've seen in my life fall for him as he cheated by using the Cupid Love System (Google it). I wish I found myself happy for him but I wish a phenomenal individual would fall in love with me. I'm extremely green with envy. Does that mean I'm a bad individual?

  • Pяαкαѕн Sнαямα

    I would like to learn to seduce women. My good friend has begun going out with a stunning girl because 2 months ago he signed up to a website called Master Attraction (Google it if you wish to learn how.) I'm so jealous since I want to fall in love as well. Why is it so hard? I'm going to look at this Jake Ayres man's material and find out if it will help someone like me. Odd point is, he once had no luck with females. How can you improve so quickly? His lady's like a model…

  • razni mohamed

    My obese nephew managed to make the hottest pole dancer there is in my town fall in love with him as he cheated by using the Cupid Love System (Google it). I wish I'd been excited for him but I wish an incredible individual would fall in love with me. I am exceptionally green with envy. Does that make me a bad individual?

  • Lhundup Darke

    Life sucks. My friend has started going out with a stunning lady basically because 2 months ago he joined an internet site named Master Attraction (Google it if you want to learn how.) I'm envious since I wish to fall madly in love as well. Why is it so difficult? I'm going to look into this Jake Ayres guy's material. Crazy point is, my friend used to have Zero success with women. How can you improve that fast? His girl's like a model.

  • Paige Lieberman

    You should be ashamed of yourself. This woman has risked her life since childhood to fight for her education, and you're spamming the comments? REALLY. Wow.

  • Nicole Geanoulis

    This was powerful. I am at a loss for words.  Sometimes it takes just a few minutes of our time to sit down and see / hear what goes on in other counrties to feel greatful for the things we have, to the littlest thing like going to school..

  • ABHISHEK conqueror

    we and my.india stands with Afghanistan full fledged in all ways we develop AFGHANISTAN and make it powerful AFGHANISTAN god bless AFGHANISTAN always we are with Afghanistani.sister 🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫🇮🇳🇦🇫

  • akram taran

    nice we the Pushtoon are proud having an educated sister and daughter like you…you are the future of our nation..

  • mma

    Great job this Afghan brother is with you. Show the world how smart and brave the Afghan women really are. By the way I have to admit that women are way smarter than men. Loll

  • mma

    I bet anything all the negative comments are by the enemies of Afghanistan and it's people the packies and Iranians. It burns them to see us like this. Lollll

  • Happy Rocks

    this video will change your mind about democracy and ruling goverment ……pls like and share this video.

  • Mansour Ghoury

    I remember at that time I was 9 years old, and my sister 8 years old, I was able to go to school but she wasn't, she would cry and wanted to go too but she couldn't because Taliban didn't allow girls to go to school, after they left she started going to school too, now she is doing her master degree and is the top of her class.

  • Victoria E

    A very emotional and motivational speech. Thank you for being an advocate and feminist for all the Afghan females

  • Rahila Ehsan

    U.S. made Taliban…. and is still maintaining them….!!! So if we suffered from Taliban, then Taliban was … and is still the strategy of America. !!!!!

  • Rafia Ali

    Masha Allah. You made us all proud. May Allah (swt) protect you and help you at every step. I hope everyone has daughters like you.

  • Suksin Lavigne7

    I have many afghanistan friends in Indonesia as refugese. we ever studied english together but woman who participated only a few. most of them are man. n those man had that kind of dream for their woman by seeing Indonesian woman who are free to go to school,riding motorcycle or driving a car. I hope Afghanistan woman have a clearly bright dream as you. also their fathers should be inspired by ur father. keep fighting and never give up. may Allah always gives us His Mercy. aamin. salaam from Indonesia

  • Faiz Muhammad Azad

    This is the most inspiring thing I saw today. 🙂
    I salute to all the fathers and brothers out there in Afgan who advocates for girls education.

  • Star41 Star41

    Thanks God she real afghan not tajik or hazara or uzbak ,they are just liars and fake hypocrate and spread the rumers and all of them work for Russia in the name of afghan refujee

  • Vishnupriya Bakthisaran

    I hope that these initiatives continue in Afghanistan. Raising a educated generation of men and women in Afghanistan is very vital to restore it back to their original glory. It would boost the economy, encourage creativity and entrepreneurship and improve their lifestyles.

  • Gurkaran Sandhu

    She’s a great lady respect from india if boys have the right to be educated girls have the equal rights as boys

  • Andreas Neumann

    Und es muss noch sehr viel passieren das diese grossartige Rede in mindestens 100 verschiedenen Sprachen übersetzt werden, sonst hat das alles keinen Sinn, Babylon.

  • Rubina Khan

    I want to be educated
    But my father dont want me to get education
    According to him education is only for boys and kitchen is for girls

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *