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Using Blockchain to Break the Bias

2022-03-08

This International Women’s Day we hear from the inspiring women who are rebuilding their careers through computer education. 

“Being born a refugee, I learned great things can start with empty hands. As a technologist and educator I understood the importance of being a digital citizen of the world. Digital citizens can undermine the geographical boundaries, especially women living in underserved oppressive systems where their physical and financial freedom is being threatened or compromised.” - Fereshteh Forough 

Fereshteh Forough, founder of Code to Inspire, was born in a small town at the border of Iran and Afghanistan but her family left Afghanistan in the early 80s because of the Soviet invasion. 

One year after the Taliban regime collapsed, Fereshteh and her family moved back to Herat, Afghanistan. After returning, she earned her Bachelor in Computer Science and later her Master’s from Technical University of Berlin in Germany. Fereshteh taught as a professor at the Computer Science faculty of Herat University for almost three years. In January 2015 she founded the first coding school for girls in Herat, Afghanistan, teaching approximately 350 girls to learn to code.

Now she fears Afghanistan's history of repressive regimes for women is repeating itself. So how can crypto help? 

“With the recent Taliban takeover, I am more certain that the liberation of Afghan women is mainly possible through technology education, keeping their identity private and enabling them to connect to the global economy through cryptocurrency.

When you educate one girl in Afghanistan with an average family of six, it brings them income and enables another six people to walk against an oppressive regime. The families begin to value their daughters’ lives and future. Therefore, imagine if we educate and liberate thousands of girls this way, all of a sudden a nation will be uprising against any regime that is forcing women to be locked up. 

As Rumi, 13th century Farsi poet said: ‘Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure’.”

- Fereshteh

There is no denying careers in technology will only go from strength to strength as we see the digital revolution continue to boom. Yet it’s an industry that’s dominated by males. Based on a  study by Deloitte that shows, across financial technology companies, only 17% of senior roles are held by women. Not only are women grossly underrepresented in the blockchain industry’s workforce, the users of blockchain are also predominantly male. According to Binance’s 2021 Global Crypto User Index, 95% of crypto users are male, so championing young women to learn about blockchain and pursue careers in this industry is critical. 

An important step to increasing female inclusion in the industry and thus, closing the gender gap, is to break down the barriers that women face when entering the blockchain industry, be it as developers, traders, or other roles. One of these barriers is accessibility of blockchain education to women. 

With Fereshteh at the helm, Code to Inspire and  Binance Charity, is supporting 100 young women and their families by sponsoring them with monthly income to pay rent and medical bills, and purchase food and Internet in order for the students to focus solely on their studies.

Following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan on 15th August 2021, many women are now unable to continue education or work, which has led to families, especially where the women were the main breadwinners, facing financial crisis and ruin. 

“At Code to Inspire we empower women in Afghanistan by helping them learn technical skills and pursue careers. Even once students have those skills, being paid and protecting their savings can be challenging. Cryptocurrency ensures we have a way for students and staff to send, receive, and save money even if traditional banking infrastructure is unavailable. We see  blockchain as leveling the playing field, removing middlemen, gatekeepers, and unfairness to finally allow anyone to participate in the economy.”  - Fereshteh. 

In celebration of International Women’s Day, and as the three-month project draws to an end, we hear from four of the students. 

Meet Maral 

What bias have you experienced in your life?

Unfortunately, I have severely experienced gender bias in recent years. I felt totally desperate and found out that there is no such value as human rights and freedom for us, especially when I faced new female-gender-related restrictions and limitations like being abandoned from education, or not being allowed to be employed or having no permit to go out alone without a man in our family. When I faced such challenges, I realized the true meaning of captivity. Because I believe, captivity is nothing but not-being allowed to live freely.

What do you think is the greatest action someone can take to break bias against women?

I believe women can prove themselves and their abilities through upgrading their knowledge, acquiring different and effective abilities, and understanding their own rights. But I find it very difficult to be practiced in a society that in their antifeminist thoughts are prominent.  Therefore it would be helpful and thoughtful if organizations such as human rights, United Nations, and other associations push society and people toward enlightenment.

 

Meet Sonita

What do you think is the greatest action someone can take to break bias against women?

I think instead of eliminating prejudice, we must focus on improving and promoting a balanced culture. In this case, equal rights for women will be achievable in many areas.

 What is your hope for other women, especially for the generations to come?

There is still hope for women, especially for a better future. These years of turmoil and subjugation cannot prevent Afghan women from retaining their place in the  society. And no challenge can stand in the way of women called Afghans. The presence of women in politics, the economy, etc. will be more prominent.

Meet Marzia

What do you think is the greatest action someone can take to break bias against women?

In my opinion, in order to eliminate prejudice, work must be done on creating a culture in society, and the aggrieved party must always defend its rights because rights are never given, but they are taken. Fortunately, the brave women of my country stand against those who claim their rights. The world's greatest powers conceded defeat to them

Who is the most inspirational woman in your life? 

‌Men have higher rights in my country, but the brave women of my country have always endured more hardships and sufferings for the progress of the country. The most inspiring woman in my life is Ms. Forough; this is not only an educational school but also a home of hope for every single girl.

Meet Kawsar 

What bias have you experienced in your life? 

In the society that I live in, there are many restrictions on women's rights and people believe that women are only for making babies and nothing more! I heard many disappointing words and insults in the way of achieving my goals because people believe that as a woman I should not stand up and fight for my dreams!

What do you think is the greatest action someone can take to break bias against women?

Supporting and fighting for women's rights is the best thing people can do. Everyone can play an important role in breaking the limits by raising their voices, every action counts, even the smallest actions such as saying a hopeful and inspiring quote to a woman.  We should all be together like members of a family and give love to each other, and this is what humanity means.

What is your hope for other women, especially for the generations to come?

My only hope for all the women out there is that one day, they know their true value and never think of themselves as weak individuals. Every woman is valuable like a diamond, every woman is a strong person that is capable of doing anything she wants and no one can stop her. Every powerful woman has the potential to be a great leader and can run the whole world.

As a woman, what are you most proud of having achieved?

Being a woman is a superpower and I am the superhero of my own life. I am very proud of myself that despite many restrictions imposed on women, I was able to come this far and didn't give up on my dreams. I will always stand up against anyone who is against me and my beliefs and I will always speak up for women's rights. I have never allowed anyone to hinder my progress and I have always strived for my independence. Now I'm happy that I have been able to achieve some of my goals and have hope for my future.