With most women not permitted to possess bank accounts in Afghanistan, cryptocurrency has become a critical lifeline for women fleeing the country.
The fall of Kabul has seen more than 600,000 people fleeing the Taliban regime and, without access to bank accounts, Afghan women were immediately put in a precarious position in their ability to help evacuate their families and contribute financially.
However, the work that Roya and Forough Mahboob achieved through the creation of the Digital Citizen Fund – a non-profit aiming to help girls and women in developing countries gain access to education and technology – has given Afghan women financial freedom.
The sisters taught thousands of young women computer basics through the non-profit scheme and, when they first heard about Bitcoin, not only did they teach the girls how to use it but they paid their staff in Bitcoin.
A third of the 16,000 girls who learned with Roya and Forough went on to set up crypto wallets and receive funds.
Why didn’t we teach crypto more aggressively?
Despite the work they’ve done that has allowed Afghan women to flee the country and set themselves up in new surroundings, Roya Mahboob questions why she didn’t teach more about cryptocurrency.
“I am thinking now – why didn’t we teach about crypto more aggressively, so more Afghans could have crypto wallets and be able to access their money now,” she said.
“The traffickers and kidnappers will always find a way to abuse a system. But the power of crypto is bigger – especially for women and those who don’t have bank accounts, it is very beneficial and so empowering.”
Mahboob’s work in increasing the use of cryptocurrency among Afghan women came in the midst of Afghanistan being urged to establish a new cryptocurrency to reduce reliance on the US dollar.