2002 - Asma Hakimi
Asma Hakimi, the heroic principal of a secret girls' school in Afghanistan, inspired people of all faiths on our site. Hakimi ran the school in Kabul during the reign of the Taliban. Every day she put her life in jeopardy with no expectation of fame or fortune--she just believed deeply that depriving girls of education meant consigning them to lives of misery and poverty. After soldiers raided her school, beating students and arresting teachers, she restarted the school in another location the next month. Sadly, the persecution of women continues in Afghanistan, so the work of Asma Hakimi and others like her remains dangerous and important. She serves as a beacon of hope to all those who fight against religious repression around the world.