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 activist’s memoir details her inspirational fight to educate women Film/Transcript PBS News Hour Feb 26, 2024

Pashtana Durrani: Afghanistan is not accepting its daughters Afghanistan with Roh Yakobi Mar 8, 2024

She fled the Taliban, but leads efforts to help educate Afghan girls Christian Science Monitor Feb 15, 2024

Meet Pashtana Durrani, the Afghan activist running a network of underground schools that teach girls to read Q and A Analyst News Feb 8, 2024

Education, the Right To Be Humans: Pashtana Durrani / Founder, LEARN Afghan NHK TV Japan Dec 19, 2023

The earthquakes in Afghanistan  WAMU NPR Radio Oct 10, 2023

Afghanistan Is a Country of Rebels. We Will Never Stop Fighting. Global Citizen Sep 20, 2023

How has life changed for Afghan women since the Taliban took power? DW News Aug 16, 2023

Inside Afghanistan’s secret schools The Documentary BBC Aug 8, 2023

Can Online Education, Work Bypass Taliban Barriers for Afghan Women? VOA May 12, 2023

Files From Exile: Pashtana Dorani on LEARN, Digital Literacy and Girls’ Education in Afghanistan Manara Magazine May 10, 2023

‘My only sin is being a girl’: Four Afghan women talk about 500 days of being denied education by the Taliban Toronto Star Apr 9, 2023

The Afghan woman running covert schools under the Taliban’s nose The National Mar 8, 2023

Taliban Announce Reopening of Universities, but Only for Male Students VOA Mar 1, 2023

The Taliban ended college for women. Here’s how Afghan women are defying the ban NPR Feb 24, 2023

My Organization Empowers Girls Through Education — By Running Underground Schools in Afghanistan Global Citizen Feb 6, 2023

Major foreign aid groups suspend work in Afghanistan after Taliban bars female employees CNN Dec 26, 2022

With the Taliban’s latest move, the highest level of education an Afghan girl can get is 6th grade NPR Dec 25, 2022

Taliban ban women from Afghan universities  CNN Dec 23, 2022

Q&A: Learning at Wellesley, While Helping Girls Learn in Afghanistan Wellesley Centers for Women Dec 2022

Despite one year of Taliban rule, Afghan women haven’t stopped fighting for equality Equal Times Oct 10, 2022

‘Our rights have been exploited for 40 years’ – activist Pashtana Dorani on Afghanistan, the Taliban and US intervention Nadja Sep 29, 2022

How has a year of Taliban rule changed Afghanistan? The Stream  Al Jazeera Aug 17, 2022

Girls and women in Afghanistan have been blocked from receiving an education NPR Aug 7, 2022

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

LEARN Is a Grassroots Organization Helping Girls and Women in Afghanistan Continue Their Education Amid Taliban School Ban Now This News June 22, 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 denying 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.

Living in exile in the US, she started pursuing a Masters in Education and Policy Analysis at Harvard in the fall of 2023. She has been a visiting fellow at the Wellesley Centers for Women in Massachusetts since late fall 2021, where she continued 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 the 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 more than 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.

Her autobiographical book LAST TO EAT, LAST TO LEARN was published in the US in May 2023.

Pashtana was named an Education Champion by the Malala Fund for her outstanding work to advance Afghan girls’ education.  She was the winner of a 2023 Global Citizen Award and the 2023  Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award. She was a global youth representative for Amnesty International and a board member of the steering committee for the Global Environment Facility. She received the 2021 Tällberg-SNF-Eliasson Emerging Leader prize, which recognizes leaders who have addressed complex global challenges in innovative ways. She was in the Aspen Institute’s New Voices Fellowship Class of 2022. Pashtana Durrani was on the BBC 100 influential women list in 2021.