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Educational Activist Hassina Sherjan to Visit KU

October 25, 2013

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - Hassina Sherjan, an extraordinary educational activist, author and business woman will share her story in "Empowering Women in Afghanistan: Literacy and Education," on Monday, Nov. 4, at 3 p.m. in the McFarland Student Union Alumni Auditorium, room 183.

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 3 p.m. in the MSU Alumni Auditorium, Sherjan will give a presentation entitled "Empowering Women in Afghanistan: Vocational Training and Home Business Development," which explores how women and families in Afghanistan are empowered to create their own businesses. At 4:30 p.m., meet Sherjan in the lobby outside the Alumni Auditorium for a reception, book sale and signing.

As a young woman growing up in Kabul in the 1970s, Sherjan's life in Afghanistan was one of freedom and opportunity. In 1978, when Sherjan was 19 years old, her family immigrated to the United States, just two months before the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

In the 1990s, when Sherjan learned of the plight of Afghan women under the Taliban, she had to act. In 1999 Sherjan traveled to Afghanistan and spent two weeks meeting with women and children, many of whom had been forced to the streets for survival and had little hope for continuing their education. Before returning to the United States, she invested $3,000 in five clandestine schools for 250 girls in Kabul. Using grants and support from various international donors she established Aid Afghanistan for Education (AAE), with the objective of unlocking the potential of young marginalized Afghans through education.

A successful businesswoman, Sherjan is owner and chief executive officer of Boumi, an internationally recognized woman-owned home accessory business. Boumi manufactures and distributes products for the home, with a goal of manufacturing and encouraging Afghan-made products with raw materials produced in Afghanistan, and the company creates jobs for village women by incorporating hand embroidered pieces into its designs.

Sherjan earned a master's degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School and was granted an honorary doctorate of law degree from Queen's University in Canada.