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Basij-Rasikh, educational advocate in Afghanistan, to speak at Stephens

October 22, 2013

Stephens College has teamed up with the Missouri Military Academy to host Shabana Basij-Rasikh.

She will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, in the Kimball Ballroom at Lela Raney Wood Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Basij-Rasikh is co-founder and president of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan, a nonprofit that makes education and employment accessible to young Afghan women. The visit comes on the heels of the release of “I am Malala,” a memoir from Malala Yousafzai, the teen who was shot a year ago by a Taliban gunman for advocating for female education.

Like Malala, Basij-Rasikh risked her safety as a youth when she posed as a boy in order to go to school. She told CNN’s Christina Amanpour last year she returned to Afghanistan after graduating from Middlebury College to help other girls still struggling to receive an education. SOLA is the first, and perhaps only, girls' boarding school in Afghanistan, and her work has garnered international attention. She was also featured on a TEDx Talk last year.

Basij-Rasikh is coming to mid-Missouri to visit MMA in Mexico, where her nephew attends the college preparatory school as a boarding student. As the second oldest women’s college in the country, Stephens agreed to host her speaking event on campus and open it to the Columbia community.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Shabana Basij-Rasikh,” Stephens President Dianne Lynch said. “We obviously share a commitment to women’s education, and that commitment extends far beyond the boundaries of the Stephens campus.”

Last month, Stephens joined the Women in Public Service Project in order to support efforts to boost women in leadership roles around the globe.

MMA plans to send its students to the speaking event, as well.

“SOLA’s mission is an important one for women in general and Afghanistan in particular,” MMA President Tony McGeorge said. “Through MMA’s 360° Educational model, which focuses on the development of the whole young man, we hope to educate the fathers of the future that will support the active participation of women in every aspect of society. We are proud to support the initiatives and mission of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan.”

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