LSE awards honorary degree to founder of girls’ education organisation

Safeena Husain is a champion for the pressing cause of girls’ education and a pioneering social entrepreneur .
- Larry Kramer, LSE President and Vice Chancellor
Safeena Husain 747 x 560
Larry Kramer and Safeena Husain

LSE has conferred an honorary doctorate to alumna Safeena Husain, Founder and Board Member of Educate Girls, in recognition of her exemplary service to society.

Educate Girls, an Indian nonprofit founded in 2007, is dedicated to expanding access to girls’ education in India’s underserved villages. Under Husain’s leadership, the organisation has mobilised over 1.8 million girls for school enrolment and provided remedial learning support to 2.2 million students, through the efforts of nearly 20,000 community-based gender advocates in India’s most marginalised communities.

Husain’s innovative approach combining door-to-door engagement with advanced analytics and technologies has propelled Educate Girls to the forefront of global development. The organisation has garnered numerous accolades, including the NITI Aayog Women Transforming India Award and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. It has also received recognition from the World Bank, USAID, and King Charles.

Most recently, in 2023, Husain became the first Indian woman to be named a WISE Laureate, one of the most prestigious awards in the global education landscape. This honour recognises her unwavering commitment to girls’ empowerment through education and her efforts to expand her organisation’s reach. Within the next ten years, Safeena aims to enhance access to quality education for 10 million learners.

Following the conferral of the honorary doctorate, Husain sat down with LSE President Larry Kramer for an in-depth discussion of the transformative power of education and its role in achieving gender equality.

“I have experienced the power of education, and my education is what has made me who I am today,” Husain said. “I truly believe that we women will not be equal unless that last girl has equality. That is why we have to ensure that every girl accesses her right to an education.’’

The honorary doctorate ceremony took place at LSE on May 29, featuring opening remarks from LSE President Larry Kramer and oration by Professor Stephan Chambers, Director and Professor in Practice at the Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship.

In his opening remarks, Kramer highlighted Husain’s global impact: “Under Safeena’s guidance, Educate Girls has become a leading force globally, harnessing innovative financing and technology to bridge the gender gap in education and now using machine learning to accelerate progress’’.

The awarding of an LSE Honorary Doctorate allows us to recognise extraordinary distinction and accomplishment in an area of scholarship or public activity in line with our guiding principles and vision: to be a “community of people and ideas, founded to know the causes of things, for the betterment of society.”

Kramer has shared that “Safeena Husain is a champion for the pressing cause of girls’ education and a pioneering social entrepreneur – in the language of LSE’s 100x Accelerator, she has built a “social unicorn,” or an enterprise that, through its combination of technical innovation and cultural intelligence, is making a significant positive impact on society on a massive scale. LSE could not be prouder of her, both as an alum and as a humanitarian fulfilling the promise of our School’s mission”.