Missouri Military Academy and Stephens College Partner to Host Guest Speaker Shabana Basij-Rasikh

Rasij-Basikh is co-founder and president of SOLA, School of Leadership, Afghanistan and an internationally known advocate of the education of women in Afghanistan

On Wednesday, October 23, Shabana Basij-Rasikh will present “The Future of Afghan Women” at 7 p.m. in Lela Raney Wood Hall on the campus of Stephens College. The event is free and open to the public.

image of Basij-Rasikh


Shabana Basij-Rasikh is co-founder and president of SOLA, School of Leadership, Afghanistan, a nonprofit that makes education and employment accessible to young Afghan women. SOLA is also the first, and perhaps the only, girls’ boarding school in Afghanistan, where the education of females was illegal during the decades of Taliban rule.

Basij-Rasikh’s work has garnered international attention, and her personal story is compelling.  Cadets and faculty will travel to Columbia to hear the courageous story of her personal struggle to seek an education as a young woman, often disguising herself as a boy to avoid severe punishment by the Taliban.

Basij-Rasikh comes to central Missouri to visit Missouri Military Academy (MMA) in Mexico, where her nephew, a SOLA scholar, attends the college preparatory school as a boarding student. As the second oldest women’s college in the country, Stephens College agreed to host a speaking event on campus in Columbia.

“SOLA’s mission is an important one for women in general and Afghanistan in particular. 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.” – MMA President Tony McGeorge

 Shabana Basij-Rasikh – Official Bio

Born and raised in Kabul, Shabana finished high school in the U.S. through the State Department’s Youth Exchange Studies program. She went on to attend Middlebury College, graduating magna cum laude in International Studies and Women & Gender Studies in 2011.

In college, she founded HELA, a non-profit to empower Afghan women through education. She also raised funds across the U.S. to build a high school for girls in her ancestral village, and wells in the outskirts of Kabul. Shabana was selected as one of Glamour® Magazine’s Top 10 College Women in 2010, and received the Vermont Campus Compact 2011 award for outstanding public service. In 2011–12 Shabana was the National Gender Mainstreaming Advisor at the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in Kabul.

Shabana co-founded SOLA in 2008 with four students. Today, 23 girls and 2 boys aged 11 to 22 represent all major ethnic groups, religious sects and tribes, and half of Afghan provinces in SOLA’s preparatory program in Kabul. SOLA scholars attend boarding schools, colleges and graduate programs in the U.S. and around the world, including Bates, Loomis Chaffee, Middlebury, Mt. Holyoke, Northfield Mt. Hermon, Smith, and Tufts.

SOLA’s mission is to provide these future leaders of Afghanistan with global educational opportunities so that they can—and will—return home to develop Afghan solutions to Afghan problems. The strength of her vision for advancing Afghanistan, drawing on her personal story and that of the school she founded, have propelled her onto the world stage.