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Finally, Computer Classes and Digital Literacy for Girls in Afghanistan

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There are a lot of confusing things happening in the Middle East: many girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan are discouraged and get hurt for trying to go to school, and when you combine that with a strong fear of technology, you get a whole lot of gender and education inequality. But there’s a brave woman trying to fix that.

Enter Roya Mahboob. She’s one of Afghanistan’s first female IT CEOs. That’s pretty amazing already, since women are barely allowed to work outside of their homes. But she’s trying to help girls, and that’s what makes her a superstar. Her organization, Digital Citizen Fund (formally the Women’s Annex Foundation) builds new IT centers for technology and education.

The Digital Citizen Fund is Mahboob’s move towards giving young women training in technology. The organization creates high school classrooms with Internet and computers so girls can learn social media, blogging, photography, Microsoft, and basic coding. So far, there are 11 training facilities across Afghanistan and they plan to expand, which is especially amazing since most high schools in Afghanistan don’t have computer labs, let alone computer labs with female students. It is not surprising that the security at these facilities is very tight.

At these schools, girls can learn English and communicate with other students around the world. They can also make money using a social media site called Bitlanders, allowing the girls to gain some financial independence. Mahboob says that Bitcoin gives the women the ability to make money without needing a bank account, which is important in developing countries.

Here’s an example of a typical situation: Nadia, a middle school student in Herat, was told by her father that going to school wasn’t good for girls, and that she should do chores at home instead. Then, Nadia’s father’s computer had a problem. Nadia fixed it, and after explaining that she learned the solution from school, she got the OK to keep going.

The organization has also started a new project called “Superheroes” in the schools. There aren’t many American-style superheroes in Afghanistan, so teachers ask students to design their own, which aids the girls in learning to sketch and make digital art. The organization wants to make comics and 3D prints of the girls’ creations. Mahboob’s going all out for these girls, who definitely deserve it.

To summon it up, Afghanistan and Pakistan are places that aren’t fair to girls who want to learn, but Mahboob’s organization is giving them a chance to learn despite all the dangers. The girls are doing what they want ,and they’re not going to let anything get in their way.

(via The Daily Dot)

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