Afghanistan: Using technology to empower women

In a world of no boundaries, Roya Mahboob aims to bridge the gap between school-based education and real jobs.

by Virginia Vigliar


Original Article Published on



Roya Mahboob knew that she wanted to build a career in technology from the first time she set her eyes on a computer in the only internet cafe in Herat, Afghanistan, when she was 16 years old.

In 2010, at the age of 23 she became the first tech chief executive in Afghanistan when she founded Afghan Citadel Software (ACS) with the aim of involving more women in her country’s growing technology business.

“We are not thinking, we are not supposed to do critical thinking,” says Mahboob, discussing the way she and many women grew up in Afghanistan.

Mahboob was born in Iran to Afghan parents as one of seven children. Her parents had travelled to Iran during the Soviet invasion, and the family moved back to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban government in 2003, where she began her university studies and learned English.

Along with some of her siblings, including her sister Elaha as her partner, Mahboob established ACS shortly after.

“I think digital literacy can give women a voice in our global conversation. Then, they can find different skills and get their financial independence,” she says

The entire generation of youth in Afghanistan deserves to gain control over their futures.

Roya Mahboob, chief executive of Afghan Citadel Software

She recalls the day when she and a friend walked into the Internet cafe. They were the only two women in the room and many of the men stared at them. Without allowing this to bother her, Mahboob immersed herself in the world of digital technology from that day on.

“I saw the incredible power of social media and technology in my life, and I saw how it connected me to the world, and that I could work from home, and grow my business,” Mahboob says.