The World Wide Web went public back in 1991, invented by English scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, it was designed to bring people together and make knowledge freely available. 

Since its launch, the internet has changed the world and improved the lives of billions. But many are still unable to access its benefits, and for others it comes with too many unacceptable costs.

The NewNow – a group of passionate young leaders brought together by Virgin Unite – is part of the core group that have created a new ‘Contract for the Web’ – ensuring a free and open web for all people.

The contract has beencreated by representatives from more than 80 organisations, governments, companies, and civil society members, who came together to set out commitments to guide digital policy agendas.

Despite its failings, the internet is still deemed to be critical infrastructure for human development and presents a positive pathway for rising generations to access education, healthcare and economic opportunity. It assists in building communities, sharing and solving common challenges, and promoting peace and inclusion. And, when it comes to women and girls, the benefits of getting online can be huge – with the potential to change the future trajectory for whole families, entire communities and, eventually, society at large.

A leading voice in determining the contract has been NewNow leader and founder of Digital Citizen Fund, Roya Mahboob. Accessing the internet for the first time in Afghanistan at the age of 16 changed Roya’s life forever. It opened new opportunities and started a journey that led to her being named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2013.

Once Roya’s passion for tech was ignited, she went on to earn her degree in computer science, using her training to launch Afghan Citadel Software, with a majority of female employees building tech platforms for private and public sector clients. Not content with her multiple business ventures alone, Roya went on to start Digital Citizen Fund, a not for profit that provides digital and financial literacy training for youth, especially girls, throughout Afghanistan. Digital Citizen Fund have now seen 15,000 young people come through their programmes, with 100 young women turning to entrepreneurship as a result.

In 2020 Roya will lead the launch of The BRITE Initiative, a model for social and economic inclusion based on educating girls throughout South Central Asia in technology, AI, robotics and more to ensure they build resilient, peaceful, prosperous societies in Afghanistan and other countries throughout the region. 

The internet is at the heart of delivering this vision of freedom for girls and women, which is why Roya is a staunch advocate for the Contract for the Web.

We all have the responsibility and the power to ensure that we are digitally connected in ways that bring dignity, equality and justice for all.

Please join us in endorsing and supporting the Contract for the Web.