Pashtana Durrani

Executive Director LEARN Afghanistan

Region(s): Asia, Middle East
Country of focus: Afghanistan, Pakistan
Based in USA


Current Occupation: Executive Director LEARN Afghanistan
Organization/Institution: LEARN Afghanistan
Language: Pashto, English


Afghan women, girls push for education in the face of Taliban resistance PBS News Hour Jul 15, 2022

In Exile, but Undaunted Wellesley Magazine Spring 2022

Taliban Deny Afghan Girls Education, Block Women From Working Abroad VOA Mar 29, 2022

Taliban U-turn over Afghan girls’ education reveals deep leadership divisions Guardian Mar 25, 2022

Broadcast interviews on Taliban U-turn on girls’ education  BBC, CNN, Deutsche Welle, TRT World, RFE, Al Jazeera

Six Months After the Fall of Kabul New Lines Podcast Feb 25, 2022

Afghanistan women: ‘I felt anxious going back to university’ BBC World Feb 4, 2022

In Pashtana Dorani’s Afghanistan, No Woman Will Be Left Behind Wellesley News Jan 24, 2022

TIME100 Talks Spotlight: Pashtana Durrani Time Dec 17, 2021

“No Food Available”: Afghanistan Faces Catastrophe Democracy Now Dec 16, 2021

BBC 100 Women 2021 BBC Dec 7, 2021

Afghan women entrepreneurs defy Taliban curbs on women’s education TRT World Dec 07, 2021

Afghan Teachers Defy Taliban by Secretly Schooling Teenage Girls Wall Street Journal Nov 25, 2021

Afghanistan: After The Fall | The Mehdi Hasan Show MSNBC Nov 19, 2021

How life has changed for Afghan women and girls since the Taliban takeover NPR Oct 18, 2021

An Afghan educator, now in hiding from the Taliban, reflects on how swiftly life has changed for half the country’s population New Lines Magazine Oct 5, 2021

‘What Will Happen When the World Looks Away?’ An Afghan Teacher on How the World Can Protect Girls From the Taliban Time Aug 26, 2021

Inside One Afghan Woman’s Fight to Protect Educational Rights Elle Aug 19, 2021

As Taliban offers reassurances for women, Afghan educator warns words must be measured against actions CBC Radio The Current Aug 17, 2021

Afghanistan: ‘Women won’t be silenced by the Taliban’ BBC Aug 16, 2021


Pashtana Durrani  (@BarakPashtana ) is an Afghan human rights activist and community development expert who champions the right of women and girls to education. She founded LEARN Afghanistan (@LearnAfg), a non-profit dedicated to innovation in education, health, community resource building with a focus on women, girls and child rights advocacy.

She is a visiting fellow at the Wellesley Centers for Women in Massachusetts since late fall 2021, where she is continuing research to help Afghan women and girls pursue education and support the health of Afghan mothers and babies. She lived in hiding and spoke out against the closure of schools and universities after the Taliban takeover in August, 2021 and fled to United States that fall.

Pashtana founded LEARN Afghanistan to safely and securely provide education to girls through a distributed network of tablet computers using an offline platform. Through LEARN, she has educated 7,000 girls and boys in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and trained more than 80 teachers in digital literacy. LEARN also focuses on girls’ health, and has trained 700 girls in menstrual hygiene management.

Pashtana was named an Education Champion by the Malala Fund for her outstanding work to advance Afghan girls’ education. She was a global youth representative for Amnesty International and a board member of the steering committee for the Global Environment Facility, an international partnership to address pressing environmental concerns. She is also a winner of the 2021 Tällberg-SNF-Eliasson Emerging Leader prize, which recognizes leaders who have addressed complex global challenges in innovative ways. Pashtana Durrani was among the BBC 100 influential women list of the year 2021.