Lisa Marie Basile
March 13, 2015 10:44 am

When President Obama addressed the lack of American girls in technology, he said, “One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering.” We agree. The most difficult challenge, though, is that there is a lack of girls in technology worldwide.

Afghanistan is one nation where getting an education might be fatal to a young girl. Taliban rule says that girls can’t attend classes, so there is a real lack of women in education and only 16 % of women in the workforce.

In one village, however, a brave woman set out to teach girls how to use a computer. Her name is Roya Mahboob, and she is incredible. In fact, she’s been named one of Time’s Top 100 influential people in 2013.  In the United States, almost anyone can start or join a community course or workshop, but the culture in Afghanistan is one that doesn’t empower its girls to learn in the same ways boys do, and Mahboob wants to change that.

In the beginning, she couldn’t get permission to set up the classroom, but after working with the community, she was eventually allowed to do so. The only catch? Her students couldn’t use the Internet. This is because there is a super unfair fear of women being exposed to information.

Mahboob told The Daily Dot about how the 15-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai inspired her. Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban simply for trying to get an education:

In order to get girls the education they deserve, Mahboob founded the Digital Citizen Fund, which has a simple goal: to provide Internet and technology classes to girls in high school. Today, there are 11 Internet classrooms — all with tight security so the girls can learn safely.

Not only does teaching girls about computers give them valuable work skills, it allows them to share their voices, which are often totally silenced by the culture they live in.

Mahboob said, “Education in social media is very important for women, because it gives them freedom to think, and freedom to talk about what is in their mind and their heart. It’s valuable for communication.”

This sort of independence and exposure to education should be a basic human right! It is totally unacceptable that girls have to live in fear just to learn what boys are able to learn.

The Digital Citizen Fund is also launching a new art empowerment project — Superheroes — which allows girls to design their own superheroes (characters like these don’t exist Afghanistan) and print them.

How cool is that? We think Roya Mahboob — and all of these brave girls — are the real superheroes!

And, if you’re wondering what the girls in the classrooms are going to do with their education, plenty of them have big dreams for their future. A few of their fathers have even changed their minds about education; they can see now that it is a good thing for their daughters.

We believe it is this sort of gradual change that can really make a difference in the end.

(Image via here.)

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