Wednesday Jun 29, 2016
The only all-female coding school in Afghanistan is aiming to bridge gender gaps in a society which considers tough work like programming men’s expertise.
Code to Inspire is the first ever only female coding school in Afghanistan. Established in Herat in the year 2015 the school now looks to expand in Mazar-e Sharif.
Its founder and CEO Fereshteh Forough hails from a refugee family that has moved to Iran after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1996. Fareshteh and her family returned once the Taliban regime has been overthrown. She received her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Herat University and a Master’s degree from Technical University of Berlin in Germany.
Upon returning to her country, Forough opened the first ever all female coding school in Afghanistan.
“When we started recruiting girls in Herat in the fall of 2015, we wanted to show them their value and empower them to break down traditional barriers,” said Forough while speaking to the News Deeply, a website which focuses on under reported stories.
Forough is one of the few women to join Afghanistan’s rising technology sector. Her coding school trains 50 girls and teaches elementary web design, along with mobile app development.
The school was among the few recipients of the Google Rise Award this year.
A survey by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) found that around 85 percent of Afghan women have been deprived of formal education; however most of these women have easy access to mobile phones. The aim of the school was to make these women self reliant and to increase their chances of finding employment.
Code to Inspire has the government’s support but it is otherwise considered improper for women to study and work with men. This was one reason why Forough decided to open an all women school where she would be able to provide the students a safe learning environment.
Forough believes that this school would eventually become these women’s stairway to success, opening up doors to jobs in the tech market which allows individuals to work from home.
A few years ago music, internet and television had been banned in Afghanistan but in the recent past the tech industry has been growing.
The coding program at Code to Inspire is free of charge and easily accessible. Whatever skills the women learn at school can be used in Afghanistan’s growing tech job markets.
“We are going to empower girls online without being worried of physical and geographical distances,” said Forough.
“Coding can help me be my own boss,” she added.
Forough aims to empower more women that way, and wishes to expand CTI.
“Sometimes as an outsider, it can be scary to think about programming and coding as potential careers,” Forough said when asked for her advice to girls who want to learn to code.
“But don’t be afraid of challenges. They make you stronger and give you perspective in life. And once you learn, you will see how coding is so empowering.”