Though women’s rights in Afghanistan have improved since the fall of the repressive Taliban regime 12 years ago, many Afghans still believe that a woman should work only in the home, caring for her family. Technology entrepreneur Roya Mahboob is working in clever new ways to change this continuing cultural stereotype. Mahboob’s Afghan Citadel Software Co., an IT consulting firm founded in 2010, employs 25 people, 18 of whom are women. Her employees develop software and databases for private companies, government ministries and NATO. To make these jobs more accessible to Afghan women, five of the employees are able to work from home.
Mahboob’s plans are even more ambitious. Most public access to the Internet in Afghanistan is restricted to urban Internet cafés, which are often uncomfortable or unsafe places for women. That doesn’t work for Mahboob — so she is building 40 free Internet-enabled classrooms across Afghanistan to allow more than 160,000 female students to connect to the world. She also founded a multilingual blog and video site to give these women a platform for telling their stories. Nearly 300 female student bloggers have posted on the site, making themselves heard and changing the way the world sees Afghanistan … and how Afghan girls and women see themselves.
Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead
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