The Digital Citizen Fund (DCF) is a 501c3 non-profit organization headquartered in New York, NY, with field offices in Herat and Kabul. Our main field office is located in Herat and has 10 staff and we maintain a satellite office in Kabul with 3 staff. Our mission is to empower women and children through digital education that positively inspires and connects them to a world beyond their borders. In Afghanistan, the majority of women and children are not provided with a digital education or access to the internet, leaving them disconnected and ill equipped to compete in the new digital world. Digital Citizen Fund aims to change that.
Since our first Center was built , we have worked to encourage students of all ages to be active learners in the world of technology and empower them to create sustainable income opportunities for themselves and their families. We built our first women-only IT Centers in Afghanistan in 2012 and our flagship program has grown to include 13 IT Centers – 11 in Herat and 2 in Kabul – in support with the department of Education. Of these 13 IT Centers, 11 are located directly in public high schools, allowing accessibility for girls to attend classes, as girls are not otherwise easily permitted to leave the home.
The most opportune time to connect to and empower women in Afghanistan is during her high school years, before she is married. Many families now allow their daughters to attend secondary school, but fewer are accepting of university studies or employment outside of the home once girls graduate high school, favoring marriage instead. Now that we have achieved proof of concept, we are seeking to raise 100k to scale the IT Centers program at a critical time for Afghanistan. DCF’s IT Centers create a pipeline that will provide high school girls with essential digital literacy skills, while exposing them to the opportunities and role models to create for them as the next generation of female leaders.
We have a goal of $100,000 more to offer 2,500 female in Afghanistan special training in computer skills, financial literacy and coding. Through this program, women and girls will be given the necessary skills to compete in the global economy, continue their education, and potentially earn a sustainable living for their families. DCF for this specific program to provide a financial literacy program in addition of Digital Literacy training. This program is intended to rapidly increase the number of women and girls exposed to basic skills training. The more Afghan women are able to understand their options and become self-confident, the more they can make better decisions and improve their lives. This is improvement is likely to have a positive ripple effect, as these women, who are now educated mothers and/or dedicated employees, will become active citizens and influential forces in their communities.
Due to a variety of socio-cultural and political factors, women and girls in Afghanistan, who comprise half the country’s population, lack access to technology (particularly computers and Internet access), basic skills training, and education. Research by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International indicates Afghan women’s rights are actually declining, resulting in even less education, higher illiteracy, and fewer job opportunities.
Roughly 37%, or 2.5 million, of Afghanistan’s seven million school children are female, which is a significant increase since 2002 (Afghan Ministry of Education). However, girls can only be educated in single-sex schools, many of which lack proper infrastructure, resources, and well-trained instructors. Some girls’ schools have no female teachers, yet men cannot teach girls. While 52% of Afghan males aged 15 and older can read and write, only 24% of Afghan females can (CIA World Factbook). Unfortunately, both Afghan schoolgirls and educated women still face many obstacles, including gender discrimination and male domination, in their society.
Employment is another barrier experienced by Afghan women, which is largely due to societal issues since many are against women working outside the home. However, low literacy and lack of professional and technical skills among Afghan women also contribute greatly to their inability to compete for jobs.
According to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, 89% of the Afghan population has access to mobile phones and 10% to the Internet. The global shift to a knowledge-based economy provides an opportunity to equip Afghan women and girls with essential tools to participate in the digital era. Amid a growing shortage of technology workers worldwide – estimated by the ITU as two million more jobs than professionals to fill them in the coming decade – Afghanistan is struggling to meet its demand for high-tech workers. This presents a tremendous opportunity for Afghan women and girls.
Digital Citizen Fund (DCF) commits to empower 2,500 Afghan females ages 12-18 with technology training in 2017, to include financial literacy, basic computer skills, website development, coding ,financial literacy training and how to safely utilize email and social media to connect with the outside world. DCF’s program provides skills necessary for young females to continue their education, compete in the global economy, and earn a sustainable living. This will be supplemented with a financial literacy module designed by DCF.
DCF currently offers similar training in 13 Information Technology (IT) Centers it has built at girls’ schools in Afghanistan which are among the few places considered safe for females to use computers. Each IT Center is fully equipped with computers, Internet access, and trained staff. The program has yielded great results, with 9000 females trained to date.
DCF’s commitment will increase digital and financial literacy among Afghan females, empowering them to understand their options, gain self-confidence and personal worth, make better decisions, exercise their human rights, and improve their lives. This may have a positive ripple effect, as the females become active citizens, influential forces, and financial contributors in their families and communities. Participants will also network with other females to further their economic and social opportunities. DCF’s approach addresses a human rights issue in a way that is non-confrontational, positive, productive, and cost-effective.
This commitment expands upon DCF’s previous successful work providing digital and financial literacy training to 9,000 Afghan females but on a much larger scale. It differs from prior endeavors in that DCF actually built IT Centers at schools in the past in order to implement its training curriculum. In this new commitment, DCF will identify schools that already possess the necessary infrastructure to accommodate its program. DCF will be responsible only for implementing its courses and training the instructors.
To empower young girls and women through technology training including basic computer skills, website development, graphic design, coding, and how to safely utilize email and social media to connect with the outside world. Girls and women are empowered and have increased job opportunities and economic potential. It will ultimately allow them to become stronger leaders within their families, local communities and country as a whole. They will have economic decision-making powers that will benefit them and their households.
Trained students can share their gained knowledge with family members, friends and in their community, thereby multiplying the positive effects of the project.
Once the basics of computing have been learned, students can also engage in self-learning and continually expand their skills.
You can help us achieve this goal not only by contributing to our campaign but also sharing it with your network. The more you share the more people know about our cause and that brings us closer to our goal. Another way to help us is by joining our campaign as a Team. You can then share your own personal team fundraising page with your network. If you would like to join our campaign as a team, go to this link and click on Join Us.
$1000 - Gold necklace
A necklace made with dark blue lapis and 3 grams gold & a Thank you note.
$2500 - Emerald necklace
Emerald necklace along with a Thank You note.
$5000 - Gold studded ring
A 4 carat Emerald and Gold ring or Ruby and Gold ring. Make sure to add your selection on the next step.
$7500 - Yellow Gold Necklace
Choose between an 4 carat Emerald and 12 k yellow Gold necklace or a Blue Lapis and 4 carat Emerald with 12 k yellow Gold necklace.
$17,500 - Bracelet + Necklace + Earrings + Ring
A complete set of bracelet, necklace, earrings and ring made of yellow gold (15k) or white gold studded with a 6 Carat Emerald.
$25,000 - Our IT center on your nameAs a token of gratitude for your generous contribution, will name one of our IT centers after you! You also get your choice of jewelry!
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If successfully funded, this campaign will impact 2500 lives