What would you do if someone took all your books, magazines, or TV sets and burned them? Wouldn’t let you leave your house without a man with you, refused to let you enter a building? Even threatened to kill you?
These are the things that Roya Mahboob had to endure growing up in Afghanistan.
Even though the Taliban burned her books and cut off her access to the outside world, she never forgot the stories.
Instead, Roya dreamed up new possibilities and ideas of what a world of equality could be like.
She believes that “the more we dream, the more we know. You can create your own future and become the person you want to be. Imagination is the key to the future.”
As a teenager, she would sneak into an internet cafe very early in the morning, as women couldn’t be inside at all. She was immediately hooked on these “magical boxes that could connect you to the world.”
Consequently, she started learning as much as possible with a computer science degree, although the local community did not like girls accessing education.
They once told her father to take her out of school, but he ignored them and let her complete her degree.
When she started her own software business in Herat, she faced many oppositions.
People in her community did not like Roya working with computers or educating other women.
Thus, her office windows were smashed; she and her family were threatened with defamation and death.
Eventually, this problem forced her to flee to the U.S. for protection.
Today, Roya Mahboob is Afghanistan’s first female tech CEO.
She was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world in 2013.
Roya also created a nonprofit to expand computer education and technological literacy worldwide. To date, she has trained more than 7,900 female students and helped over 100 women start their startups.
Roya Mahboob’s career sounds like someone from Silicon Valley. But she insists she is just a dreamer who wants to give women the skills to support themselves.
The Taliban wants to keep the country in darkness without access to the outside world or information. But Roya wants the opposite.
Roya always says that dreaming of what could be possible is how she managed to create a business and help so many people.
What can we learn:
It takes courage, but you have to dream of something different, and your imagination is the key.
Do you dream enough of the future? What possibilities could the future hold? What could you create? The sky’s the limit!
“If we do not have the courage to dream different, nothing will ever change.”