Friday, February 27, 2015

Elaha’s letter to Bitcoin Rush: 

I graduated from Goharshad High school of Herat, and got a bachelor degree in Computer Science at Herat University in 2012. I started my social activities when I was a University student as a social activist in the field of women's empowerment through technology.
My sister Roya Mahboob, who was named in Time 100 most influential people in the world in 2013, and I, along with a group of IT women, created the first women-owned IT business company, Afghan Citadel. It provides services like software development, networking infrastructure, web designing and IT consulting in Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, there were really few job opportunities for women, especially in IT because of lack of knowledge and experience. The companies and government preferred hiring men than women. Besides, there are a lot of families who do not let the girls go and work outside of the house. Because of all these issues, we decided to start our company and help those women. We were almost all women in the company, working in a safe environment. The families trusted us, and we were able to bring a big change.
In 2012, we started to create IT centers for female students in Afghanistan. We have built 13 IT centers with the sponsorship of Film Annex (now Bitlanders).
Later on, we created the Women’s Annex Foundation with the mission to empower women and children through Digital Literacy. We have the ongoing support of our 13 IT centers in female schools in Afghanistan, and an existing network of 55,000 female students connected to the World Wide Web.
In Afghanistan, where most people, especially women, do not have a bank account, Bitcoin is a great solution, also for online shopping.
This is why we are educating Afghan women about digital currencies such as Bitcoin, with the purpose to make them stand on their own feet and become financially independent.
As of today, we have a large number of bloggers from Afghanistan. Most of them are female students who are being rewarded with Bitcoin. One of then is Parisa Ahmady, whose story is mentioned in the book The Age of Cryptocurrency by Wall Street Journal reporters Paul Vigna and Michael Casey. The books preface starts with this:
"Even though Parisa Ahmadi was in the top of her class at the all-girls Hatifi High School in Herat, Afghanistan, her family was initially against her enrolling in classes being offered by a private venture that promised to teach young girls Internet and social media skills – and even pay them for their efforts. “"Here in Afghanistan a woman’s life is limited by her room’s walls and school,” she wrote in an email. In Afghanistan, girls are not exposed to the Internet, not at home and not at school. That’s the way it might have stayed, too, if Ahmadi hadn’t persisted. She was a top student, and she wanted to take even more classes. In her mind, that was reason enough. She pressed her family, by her own admission, “a lot.”

“The Women’s Annex sets up their classrooms in local high schools, and the classes are taught by women. Because of this last feature, Ahmadi’s family finally relented, and let her sign up.
Ahmadi started taking classes in 2013, and she and her classmates were learning about the World Wide Web, social media, and blogs. A movie lover who also loved to write about the movies that moved her, she began writing blog posts, and it turned out that its members responded positively to her reviews, earning her the first real income of her young life. “

“ Still, one of the other things most girls don’t have in Afghanistan is a bank account. If the Afghani teen ever had any money, she had to transfer it into her father or brothers’ bank accounts, and that’s simply the way it is for most girls where she lives. In this sense, she was lucky—many women from her background would have encountered male family members who outright blocked her from access to her funds and treated it as their own.”


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