Sadiqa Basiri Saleem
Global Leadership Awards
As a refugee living in Pakistan, Sadiqa Basiri Saleem was close to earning a medical degree when the Taliban shut down her Afghan-run school. When she returned home to Wardak province after the fall of the Taliban, she found 150,000 girls with no hope for an education — for years, the regime had forbidden girls over the age of eight from attending school.
So Sadiqa and three other women pooled their money. They provided 36 girls with uniforms, supplies and funding to study in an abandoned mosque.
Outcries against “superfluous” women’s education and anonymous threats poured in, but the Oruj Learning Center flourished. The Center now educates over 2,700 girls in six schools and more than 200 women at four literacy centers.
Sadiqa has also established the Family Welfare Center for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a domestic violence prevention project that provides services to 14,000 Afghan women, trains government staff on domestic violence and encourages spiritual leaders to discuss women’s issues constructively.
Her goals are ambitious — two new schools for returnees and internally displaced persons, an Afghan Women’s Leadership Institute to train high school graduates in business management and leadership skills, and an expanded gifted students program.
At the tender age of 28, Sadiqa has already made a lifetime of extraordinary contributions to the development of a new Afghanistan.