Fereshteh Forough’s all-female coding school, Code to Inspire, is transforming girls’ education in Afghanistan. By teaching computer literacy and web development skills, Code to Inspire enables and empowers women to join the workforce and achieve financial prosperity.
Years of Taliban rule left behind a national mindset that women should not work alongside men. Girls were prohibited from obtaining an education. Rather, a woman’s role was confined to household chores and child rearing. The success and even mere existence of CTI show the progress achieved since Taliban rule.
Currently, 85 percent of Afghan women are illiterate and have no formal education. Women make up only 16 percent of the country’s workforce. However, 80 percent of women have access to mobile technology. Code to Inspire is working to fill this void, promote girls’ education in Afghanistan, and provide opportunities for employment in the global tech industry.
With a median age of 18.6, Afghanistan’s extremely young population can only benefit from increasing the population of skilled workers. Code to Inspire seeks to realize the potential of these women and revolutionize the Afghan workforce.
“We wanted to show them their value and empower them to break down traditional barriers,” says Forough.
Currently, 50 students are enrolled at Code to Inspire. The program is free of charge and teaches elementary web design, gaming technology, and mobile app development.
Forough’s goal is to change society’s attitude toward working women, starting on a personal and family level. The organization has won the support of the students’ fathers and brothers and has maintained good relations with local communities. By encouraging girls’ education in Afghanistan and teaching applicable skills, Code to Inspire is empowering students to financially succeed, demonstrate their independence, and alter the perception of women in school and the workforce.
Learning to code vastly expands employment opportunities for Afghan women. Not only are students qualified to join the national tech industry, but the international one as well. Engaging with the global tech industry broadens the students’ perspectives and allows them to earn higher wages. The program’s learning outcomes expose students to the growing international tech industry and expand their realm of career possibilities.
The students’ achievements thus far are promising. These projects are not only bringing success to the individual women, but to Afghanistan as well. Students have developed a mobile app for restaurant deliveries, online platforms to promote tourism to Afghanistan and web pages for international clients. Another student wants to become a web developer to provide support to local businesses so they are not forced to turn to other countries for tech assistance.
Code to Inspire is gaining national and international recognition and respect. The government began supporting CTI and related programs, and CTI won Google’s 2016 RISE Award for non-profits promoting tech education. By promoting girls’ education in Afghanistan, Code to Inspire empowers women to become self-reliant, expands their employment opportunities and broadens their international perspective.
– McKenna Lux