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Growing Afghan women with Code To Inspire

Can you imagine having your entire future disappear right in front of your eyes? That's exactly what happened to 20 million women when the Taliban took over Afghanistan about a year ago. I couldn't just sit back and do nothing, so I started an investigation. What I learned proved horrifying.

Tania Tania May 30, 2023

One of the Taliban’s first moves was to replace the Ministry of Women’s Affairs with the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. As a result, Afghanistan became the only country in the world to ban women from secondary education. In December 2022, the ban was extended to universities.

Gradually, women also lost their right to leave home unaccompanied, making it increasingly difficult for them to hold jobs. With the workforce cut in half, and combined with international isolation, an exodus of professionals, and other factors, the poverty rate soared from 47% to 97%.

As I spoke with women from local NGOs, I tried to picture myself in their shoes. How would my life as a software engineer be if I lived in this world? Day-to-day life would be incredibly oppressive. Could I maybe work from home in order to provide for my family? Could remote software engineering be an ideal career path for Afghan women? This led me to discover Code to Inspire, a trailblazing NGO.

Code to Inspire teaches Afghan women to code. Their projects include creating games like “Afghan Hero Girl”, when an Afghan girl fights a wizards’ minions to free her family. Fereshteh, the Founder, suggested giving opportunities to their students was the best way to help, so I scheduled interviews.

Every single woman I met was incredibly motivated! I later learned that Wajiha, one of the most impressive candidates, had worked as a piece-rate seamstress until she had enough money to buy a computer. She continued working to afford internet access, only logging in at night when it was cheaper. All the candidates were talented, and some had prior professional experience in Afghanistan. They needed an opportunity to become world-class software engineers, making the GitStart Community an ideal fit.

If you’re not familiar with GitStart, we help companies tackle their backlog by assigning tasks to a Community of developers looking to grow on production codebases. Devs grow by completing coding tasks and reviewing each others’ code. It’s built to be fully async, which enables reaching devs across the globe (15+ countries at the moment).

I opened a Community application track for Code to Inspire graduates, starting with Wajiha, who has excelled! She has already grown by one level and consistently offers to mentor other Code to Inspire students.

However, finding Wajiha was only half the battle. We have over 100 times more promising applicants than available opportunities. Our challenge is to spread the word and find more engineering teams to assign tasks. That’s why I’ve started writing, and any support is appreciated.

Additionally, we’re considering launching a mentorship program with mentors from outside the Community. If you have experience building such programs, know excellent mentoring platforms, or would like to be a mentor yourself, I’d love to hear from you at

To share thoughts and comments, head to HackerNews.


  • Taliban ban women from universities, BBC

  • UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as quoted by Amnesty International

  • Code to Inspire has taught more than 300 students. You can find more about them on their website,

  • The game is available on the Google Play Store, along with many more from Code to Inspire.