Code to Inspire

Established in 2015, Code to Inspire is Afghanistan’s first coding school for young women, providing free training in coding, mobile app and game development, and graphic design in year-long after school programs.  

Its founder, Fereshteh Forough, was born a refugee in Iran and moved back to Afghanistan with her family when she was a teenager. After earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree, she taught Computer Science at Herat university, until being forced to flee the country in 2012 as her efforts to educate young women made her a target by extremists. After settling in New York City, she created Code to Inspire out of a commitment to educating girls back home and her belief in technology as a tool for empowerment and for challenging restrictive and discriminatory social attitudes towards girls and women. 

To date, CTI’s free training program based in Herat has taught 200 young Afghani women how to code and create mobile apps and games. 70% of its graduates have found employment and are earning above average wages.

Photo: 2020 graduates from CTI’s coding program.

Some wonderful success stories:

Razia Sabeghi grew up a refugee in Iran and later returned to Afghanistan with her family, where she struggled to find employment after graduating from college. After learning about CTI. she enrolled in the mobile app development class, and after graduating was soon hired as a programmer for a company in Iraq. At 27 years old, she is earning a salary far higher than the average in Afghanistan.

Arezo Akrami enrolled in CTI’s web development and design class with little knowledge of computers. She thrived in the program and later launched her own freelance web development business. After creating an impressive website for a nonprofit in Herat, the organization hired her as a staff member. Akrami, who is just 17, is earning $100 a month and pursuing a college education. “The first ever salary I received through my coding skills was an unforgettable feeling. I was jumping around and wanted to fly,” she said. “I am so happy that I can make money by myself and I am so grateful to CTI for helping to make this happen.”

(Left: Razia Sabeghi, Right: Arezo Akrami, photos: CTI)

Good for Girls initial grant to CTI in 2020 was allocated to purchasing high performance touchpad tablets/computers for advanced graphic design work, to kick-start a new year-long after-school programme. Additionally, we also provided an emergency COVID-19 grant which bought internet access for 4 months for 21 students so they could continue remote learning during Afghanistan’s social isolation measures. This helped Narges Zahed for example, to secure her first paid remote job, and earn herself an income for the first time ever.

(photo: CTI)