Attal, 26, Afghanistan

Born to illiterate parents, Attal walked 16km to a boy’s school; there was no girl’s school in his area. With his mother’s encouragement, Attal created the first “classroom” for local girls in his family’s kitchen using bits of charred wood to write lessons on the walls. Attal created shifts to accommodate the growing numbers, and due to his advocacy efforts an official girls’ school was built in 2005.