News / Asia

Afghan Women Help Drive Resurgent Economy

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Afghan women entrepreneurs at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, March 26, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Afghan women entrepreneurs at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, March 26, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to Afghanistan, has met with women entrepreneurs making new investments in agriculture, technology, the arts, and athletics.

Since the end of Taliban rule here, Afghan women have emerged as a driving force in a new economy with more than 1,600 registered female-owned business in a country where the Gross Domestic Product has nearly quintupled in the last decade.

"Women have entered the work area, the workspace," said Nilofar Sakhi, who directs the International Center for Women's Economic Development at the American University of Afghanistan. "They are the workspace. They are the government. They are at the parliament. And it's not easy to make them down suddenly because they have their voices, they have their contacts internationally, they have their resources. They are well equipped with information and advocacy tools."

Secretary Kerry met with some of those entrepreneurs during his visit to Kabul.

"We are always thinking how we can take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube by collecting good content and creating web traffic," said Roya Mahboob, 25, CEO of the software development firm Afghan Citadel.

Internet developer Roya Mahboob speaking with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 26, 2013. (Photo: VOA / Scott Stearns)Internet developer Roya Mahboob speaking with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 26, 2013. (Photo: VOA / Scott Stearns)
x
Internet developer Roya Mahboob speaking with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 26, 2013. (Photo: VOA / Scott Stearns)
Internet developer Roya Mahboob speaking with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 26, 2013. (Photo: VOA / Scott Stearns)
Her firm designed Dari-translation software and has more than three million viewers on a platform of web channels with more than 60,000 followers across its Facebook pages.

But she is most proud of supplying technology training to students in 40 schools with the help of Italian-born New York businessman Francesco Rulli. Mahboob says it is a chance for girls to broaden horizons.

"It's difficult, especially for females in the schools to go outside and learn IT in courses because most of the families do not pay for them to learn in the course," she said. "Providing the free education and free IT centers in each school, when they graduate from high school if they want to work they can stay at home working online."

Online, Mahboob says women have a freedom that is still hard to find in some parts of Afghanistan.

"The IT and social media give this power to women to be independent and have confidence to share their ideas because in social networks no one tells them 'Why are you outside the home?' 'Why are you talking with the men?' because no one knows them," she said.

Sharing ideas online encourages women to learn even more.

"And they increase their knowledge and have confidence that they can share as a human, they can be as a woman share and have the same skills as the men," said Mahboob.

Half of this year's freshman class at Kabul's American University of Afghanistan are women. Sakhi says Afghan girls today have role models unseen by previous generations.

"Looking at women talking about their political rights in parliament, looking at women entering into business and having trade in Malaysia and Dubai, and looking at women who are successful personalities internationally of raising Afghanistan voices. This gives an image," said Sakhi.

As a mother of two girls, Sakhi says her daughters look at her as an active mom and know they can do whatever boys do.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
March 26, 2013 9:54 AM
A clear demonstration, that the full participation of women in this patriarchical society is not only necessary, but it is the only way for this society to stop being parasitic to humanity. Tribal societies, in which women are not fully/absolutely emancipated and their human rights protected, no longer work; because of the massive increases in population, making such parasitic societies, unsustainable, and no longer capable of living as they did centuries ago. Only by fully emancipating women, and fully allowing women to contribute, will societies become self sustaining.

The failure to emancipate women goes hand in hand with poverty, disease, massive population growth, lack of human rights, wars, and famines; therefore failure to fully emancipate women, should be classified as a crime against humanity, and fully codified in international law.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs