“It’s a very sad, sad situation to be in because I didn’t only lose my home. I didn’t lose my life. I didn’t lose the ability to be able to do what I could in my life as a woman, as a mother, ultimately as a minister. But so many dreams that were created and so many dreams that I had dared to instill in people’s lives, and lastly, particularly in children’s lives, it also seemed to have shattered for now. That’s the most incredible sadness a human can live with. And that’s where I am trying to reignite hope, while it is very, very difficult under the circumstances and the emotional status that I am living with daily.”

My name is Rangina Hamidi. I was the first female education minister of Afghanistan until the Taliban took over. I was born in Kandahar, Afghanistan. In 1981, I emigrated to Pakistan and then to the U.S. with my family. I earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and women and gender from the University of Virginia. I returned to Afghanistan in 2003 and took up residence in Kandahar. For two decades, I worked tirelessly to better the lives of Afghan citizens through development projects, advocacy, and, most importantly, education. An example of an achievement in these areas is the establishment of a full value chain model of an all-women’s social enterprise in Kandahar whose products have reached Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, and other parts of the world. In this endeavor, I designed and implemented a holistic and full-environment approach to bring value to Afghan women at each part of the value chain. Most recently, I successfully led the Mezan International School to integrate and implement a world-class and internationally accredited curriculum with a solid foundation of Islamic education, Afghan history, Afghan values, and multilingual education.

I am well-versed in child development, educational psychology, educational management, Islamic pedagogy, curriculum, business administration, development in conflict-affected countries, and gender issues from an Islamic perspective. I’ve spoken about Afghanistan in numerous national and international forums, including universities, schools, conferences, and other special events. I have been recognized internationally for my work with women. I was selected as one of 18 finalists for the CNN 2007 Hero Award and chosen as a “”Personality of the Week”” by Radio Free Europe. I’ve contributed to numerous publications and radio programs, including TIMES Asia Magazine, The Globe and Mail, Der Spiegel, Business Week, The Guardian, The Telegraph, NPR, BBC, and Voice of America. My latest publication is a book that I co-authored entitled “Embroidering within Boundaries: Afghan Women Creating a Future.”” I serve on the advisory boards of Open Society Afghanistan (OSA), Afghan Women Chamber of Commerce & Industries (AWCCI), Medica Afghanistan (MA), and the Afghanistan Institute for Civil Society (AICS), and I am a council member of the US-Afghan Women’s Council. I’m married with one daughter, and I currently live in Kabul.

Warning: the following content may contain triggering and/or sensitive material depicting war & violence

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– Kids dancing & celebrating Independence Day