Advocate for Digital Literacy, Empowerment for Women to Speak at Hancock Symposium

A woman leader who has devoted her life to educating women in Afghanistan and improving their technical literacy will be a major speaker at the September 20-21 Hancock Symposium on campus.

Born in Iran as a refugee during the U.S.S.R invasion of Afghanistan, Fereshteh Forough is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the non-profit organization Code to Inspire. Code to Inspire’s mission is to link women’s economic and social advancement to Afghanistan’s growing technology industry by teaching female students in the country to code. The goal is to give these women students the technical literacy to find financially rewarding careers and socially accessible employment. Since these women’s travel is often heavily restricted, having the ability to work remotely is a great asset in the workforce.

“We are going to empower girls online without being worried about physical or geographical distances,” Fereshteh says. “They come online, they work online, and they get paid online.”

Forough was a 2013 TEDx speaker on the subject of digital literacy and communication within borders and a 2015 Clinton Global Initiative speaker. As a Peace is Loud speaker, she often speaks on the subjects of “Women and Technology: Investing in the Future,” “Educating, Inspiring, and Empowering Afghan Women,” “Coding for Social Change,” and Filling the Gender Gap in STEM.” Her Hancock Symposium remarks will focus on her company Code to Inspire as well as the human rights of the Afghan women she serves.

Her goal is to spread the message of peace and empower women everywhere. She is an advocate of using digital currency such as Bitcoin and was the first to formally promote its use in Afghanistan.

After graduating from high school in Iran, when the Taliban fell in her homeland, Foreshteh returned to Afghanistan where she taught English to girls at the Afghan Youth Association. Later she earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science at Herat University, followed by a master’s degree in information management systems from Technical University in Berlin. Then she returned to Herat University as a computer science professor for three years.

She was the co-founder of Women’s Annex Foundation, a non-profit organization in New York City that supports and helps women in Afghanistan.

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