In a historic first, Forbes magazine featured three young Afghan women social entrepreneurs in their much-talked about ‘30 Under 30’ list for Asia. A total of four Afghans made it to the prestigious list, including the three women — Tamana Asey, 26, director of the Afghanistan Forensic Science Organization (AFSO); Shabana Basij-Rasikh, 29, founder of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA); and Freshta Karim, 27, founder of Charmaghz, a mobile library in Kabul.

“Being named to the ‘30 Under 30’ list was an honour, but being named to it in the company of Freshta Karim and Tamana Asey was a joy,” said Ms. Basij-Rasikh, in picture, who as a teenager built SOLA, a boarding school for Afghan girls. Ms. Basij-Rasikh’s own struggles as she, disguised as a boy, tried to seek education under the Taliban regime led to her decision to found a school that provides quality education for girls along with extra-curricular experiences and skills training.

“There are as many as three million girls out of school in Afghanistan, and the illiteracy rate for Afghan teenage girls is 63%. Those two statistics alone speak volumes about why I do what I do. When you educate a girl, you change the world — I know this is true because I’ve lived it in my own life,” she said.

With much of the same sentiment, Ms. Karim created Charmaghz to fill a void in the education system in Afghanistan by making libraries more accessible to all communities of Kabul. Her mobile library, launched last year, and expanded this year, has gained tremendous following among children, who wait for the ‘Charmaghz bus’ to arrive in their areas. The mobile library provides not only books, but also conducts readings, group discussions, poetry recitations and board games.

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