How Roya Mahboob is fighting extremism by supporting women in tech
Digital Citizen Fund (DCF) exists to help them access the technology, education and skills they need to achieve financial independence. With nearly a decade of experience delivering digital and financial training, DCF continues to educate, empower, and expand access to life-changing resources in this critical time.
Roya Mahboob is the co-founding CEO of DCF, a NewNow leader, and recently presented at a Virgin Unite gathering. Roya’s work focusses on providing digital literacy in developing countries, with a particular focus on Afghanistan, where only 3% of women over 25 have completed any level of formal education.
In 2018 Roya joined The NewNow – a global group of rising leaders incubated by Virgin Unite to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges – and since then we have been in awe of her commitment and passion to bridging the gap between developed and developing countries.
Much has happened in the last year to disrupt Roya’s work and threaten the safety of the DCF team. The government and security turmoil of the past months has upended the lives of millions across Afghanistan, and many of the young women, employees, and individuals who are part of the DCF community were put at risk. Throughout it all, Roya's determination to act has not wavered.
“Caution and acceptance have never changed the world and what the people of Afghanistan need now is courage and change. None of us should accept the world as it is today. The extremism we are seeing is caused by a lack of education and I’m determined to help prevent that from continuing. People in Afghanistan need quality education opportunities,” said Roya.
Thousands of people have fled the country and are in various stages of movement and resettlement, while many more are still in Afghanistan with a desire to leave.
Those who have departed remain in need of professional opportunities, now more than ever, as they face new lives in new countries. DCF is committed to both their physical safety as well as their continued opportunity, wherever they are in the world.
Caution and acceptance have never changed the world and what the people of Afghanistan need now is courage and change. None of us should accept the world as it is today.
“There are millions of people in Afghanistan that need help and many people around the world that want to give it. An incredibly impactful way to support Afghani women and girls is through DCF,” said Jean Oelwang, CEO and Founder of Virgin Unite. “We must work together alongside global leaders like Roya and have an open dialogue with those in power - we must get to the other side."
DCF has multiple projects, both in operation and in their formative stages, focussing on unique and entrepreneurial ways to support women and girls.
The DCF Education Program: The primary and most visible aspect of DCF’s work, providing in-person, on the ground training and education, to women and girls in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) fields, job readiness and placement services.
Afghan Dreamers: The DCF and The Dreamer Institute are working on a ‘public private partnership' with the Central Partnership Authority of Afghanistan, to create a STEAM high school and university. The Dreamer Institute at Kabul University will provide a world-class education to Afghan students, emphasising women’s access to resources in STEAM fields.
The upcoming Women’s Annex platform will strengthen the voices of Afghan women and journalists - driving coverage of under-reported gender issues. Through the platform, DCF will work to expose injustices in Afghanistan and across the globe, speaking out on issues like health and development and spurring increased accountability. It will help female journalists, writers, designers, and filmmakers develop their careers and have income based on their creative content - using cryptocurrency payments directly to the individuals.
“I am determined that the young people of Afghanistan see the world in a different way. We need to commit to the next generations of entrepreneurs and scientists – education will change them and it our responsibility to make that education possible,” said Roya.