For women who grew up in the West, it is often easy to forget that we have access to many resources that other women might not always have. For Afghan women and young girls, the radical rule of the Taliban in their war-torn country meant that they lost many of their rights, including the right to a formal education.
Although the Taliban’s rule ended more than a decade ago, women in Afghanistan are still experiencing the impact of the restrictions placed on them during the group’s fundamentalist movement.
According to one recent article, an astonishing number of Afghan women are illiterate and have not had an education. However, in recent years, steps have been taken to ensure that more Afghan women have access to technology so that they are not so isolated from the rest of the world.
The opening of Afghanistan’s first coding school for women, Code to Inspire (CTI), in the fall of 2015, was an attempt to remind women in Afghanistan that they are just as capable of achieving success in careers that are traditionally seen as male appropriate.
Fereshteh Forough, the founder of the school, started recruiting young women to CTI in order to break down these traditional barriers and show students that they could achieve the skills necessary to help them attain careers in technology.
Forough, who was fortunate enough to earn a degree in computer science from Afghanistan’s Herat University, is one of the few women in the country forging the path for women in the technology sector.
Her school currently trains 50 girls and teaches basic web design and mobile app development. These basic coding skills will help women land jobs, which will in turn give them more important roles in society as they begin to earn income for their families.
Forough has big plans for CTI and hopes to enroll more students and open in other cities around the country in order to reach more young women who are interested in developing and enhancing their computer and coding abilities.
As more women gain access to technology and learn to navigate mobile apps, they will be able to spread awareness of the issues that they face on a global scale.
This will encourage them to tap into their greatest potential and empower them to chase the dreams that they didn’t dare consider while the Taliban were still in place.
Pursuing a career in the technology sector attracts many Afghan women because it allows them to work from home, which gives them the freedom to simultaneously work and fulfill their familial obligations.
Forough hopes that, as these women work on improving their skills and begin working, society will realize their value and potential. And with a large percentage of women who now have access to phones, this goal may be well within reach.