What Roya Mahboob has given to Afghanistan women is “Confidence” – confidence to change their path in a positive way, confidence to change their role model in a male-dominated culture. Sarah Browne of AOL Jobs had her interview with Roya Mahboob to help audience know more about the Superhero of Afghanistan.
Meet The Entrepreneur Changing The Future For Women of Afghanistan
By Sarah Browne | October 31, 2014
Computer class at an all girls school in Herat. The classroom was set up by Roya Mahboob’s company. May 23, 2012. (Photo Credit: Gabriela Maj)
It’s tempting to ignore what’s taboo in journalism these days, and to describe the female tech visionary in physical terms. Watching her deep in conversation in the center of the room, two clichés rushed to mind: tiny, which instantly conjures the word powerhouse; and small, which practically demands mighty. Is it so bad to respond to this 27-year-old change-maker’s courage and charisma so viscerally
The irrepressible Roya Mahboob triumphs daily over an unimaginable world.
She helps her countrywomen triumph. Powers on despite opposition and death threats. One of Roya’s favorite words is “confidence.” Her stories ring resoundingly with the word. It pops up as she describes the growing self-esteem that expertise and education — and yes, a paycheck — bring to newly employed women in this male-dominated culture. She talks of how the men, initially resistant and disapproving of the change in their wives and daughters, become more supportive when the money arrives.
Over half of the employees at Afghanistan Citadel Software Company are women. Through the efforts of Women’s Annex Foundation, the charitable organization co-founded by Mahboob, 55,000 students now have Internet access and are on the path to digital literacy. Eleven computer media labs have been built in Kabul and Herat plus two stand-alone Media Labs.
Mahboob and the Women’s Annex contingent have also succeeded where bigger, better-funded platforms have not: creating a revenue-generating model for content creators.
Intent on showing women and girls how to run a successful business, the team developed a film and blogging platform that not only compensates the bloggers but gives them a voice. While being trained in digital storytelling, the students use their expertise to tell the new story of Afghanistan. Their paychecks help ensure they can continue to grow an empowered future.
Mahboob says she and her team aren’t just entrepreneurs; they’re seeking to be role models. Clearly, they are wildly succeeding on a growing number of countries — including the U.S. We talked with Mahboob on a recent visit she made to California.
Sarah Browne: You talk about “confidence” and the way financial independence helps increase it. Are there particular changes in confidence that you’ve seen among your employees?
Roya Mahboob: Self-confidence is the basis of personal success. It is a way to believe in our skills and trust in our abilities. I saw many of our students and employees start to believe in their power and feel confident. They changed their path in a positive way and became successful. Self-confidence was like magic in their lives; a fast way to change their lives.
SB: Who inspires you?
RM: My family is my real inspiration, especially my father who helped and supported me through my previous failure and helped me to be successful now. He told me nothing in life is ever guaranteed, but we should be positive and have productive experiences.
SB: You’ve met many powerful women via your work. If one of these powerful women could mentor you, whom would you choose?
RM: One of those women is Madeleine Albright, who is a very inspiring woman. I like one of her quotes: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” I’d like Sheryl Sandberg to be my mentor as she is one of the most powerful and admirable women in the IT field. Her book “Lean In” really inspired me.
SB: I love the Superhero Factory project. Giving the young generation a chance to create their own superheroes to be inspired by is a brilliant idea. If there was a Roya Superhero, what would be her super power? What would she say to the children of Afghanistan?
RM: If I were a superhero, I would want the ability to provide digital literacy tools like computers, tablets or smartphones to every women in Afghanistan and teach them how to be financially independent and connected to the world.
I would say that nothing in the life is easy and don’t expect things to be given to you. I would say they have to learn about their skill , talent, and own power because I think every one has a super hero inside himself/herself. If you find the right skills and ability you are a superhero — it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are. Good things will came to those whom work hard.
Superhero Factory Woman’s Annex Foundation wants to give Afghanistan and its young generation their own superheroes to be inspired by. We are building the Superheroes of the next generation for Afghan students,
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