As the world marks International Women's Day, one organization is giving women in Afghanistan a safe place where they can connect to the world. VOA's Afghan Service on Thursday was at the opening of the first-ever, women-only Internet cafe in the Afghan capital.
There is barely room to move as women crowd around laptop computers in this small cafe in central Kabul.
The Afghan activist group YoungWomen4Change runs the cafe as a safe place where women can access the Internet and exchange information without the unwanted attention of men.
"We are very pleased that we are inaugurating this cafe, which is located in a safe location and safe environment," said Eqlima Muradi. "This paves the way for women to come to our cafe and use our facilities."
The brightly-painted cafe is named after Sahar Gul, a teenaged girl who gained international attention after police found her severely beaten in her husband's house in northern Baghlan province. Gul accused her husband and in-laws of torturing her.
"We named this after Sahar Gul because she suffered alot of atrocities and we want to comment on her bravery," she said. "We want her to know that we are proud of her."
Gul's case is not isolated in Afghanistan. During 1990s, the ruling Taliban banned women from going to work, getting an education, or even leaving their homes without a male escort .
Women's rights in Afghanistan have advanced since then, but activists say there is still a room for improvement.
For these Afghan women, this cafe with donated computers is one big step.