CHÉKÉBA HACHEMI, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF AFGHANISTAN LIBRE
The president and founder of Afghanistan Libre, Chékéba Hachemi, has been on the frontline of the struggle for girls' and women's rights in Afghanistan for over 25 years. After fleeing Soviet-occupied Afghanistan at the age of 11 and seeking refuge in France, Hachemi vowed to continue fighting for, and giving a voice to the women of her country.
In 1996, Hachemi founded the NGO Afghanistan Libre in response to the extreme degradation of women's rights under the Taliban regime. The first years of Afghanistan Libre were largely devoted to advocacy and raising awareness in France about the plight of Afghan women. In Europe and in the United States, Chékéba Hachemi led countless advocacy and lobbying efforts in an attempt to advance international cooperation and commitments to Afghanistan. Hachemi was Afghanistan's first female diplomat, and held other influential government roles until 2009 when she denounced the corruption of the Afghan state and demissioned.
In 2000, she returned to Panjshir where she worked alongside Ahmad Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance opposition force against the Taliban regime. They worked together closely until his assassination. Hachemi recounts, time after time, the deeply striking experience of meeting a refugee, a mother on her way to bury her son, who begged her to build a school so that the future children of Afghanistan may be educated. In the very spot of their encounter, herself and Massoud laid the first bricks of Malali school for girls, which Afghanistan Libre still supports today.
Through Afghanistan Libre, Hachemi has been working tirelessly since to facilitate the rights to education, health and wellbeing, livelihoods, and opportunity to the most marginalized women and girls across rural and isolated parts of the country. The organization has opened or enabled the reopening of 14 public schools, 4 Health Education Centres, 5 preschools and 3 libraries in Panjshir province and in Paghman district (Kabul province).
For her work with Afghanistan Libre, Chékéba Hachemi has received numerous awards such as the Golden Women Award (2001), the Human Rights Award of the French Republic (2012) and the International Award "Women, Digital, Entrepreneurship" of the Foundation La France s'engage (2019).