A group of Afghan women who broke gender barriers by becoming the first female coders in the country have designed a game called “Fight against Opium,” underscoring Afghanistan’s struggle to combat opium trafficking.

In the game, an Afghan soldier has the mission to clear out drugs in Helmand and faces obstacles such as drug traffickers, hidden heroin labs and land mines in the process. Khatera Mohammadi, one of the coders, said the scenarios in “Fight against Opium” were based on her brother’s real-life experiences as a translator for the U.S. troops in Helmand. “He would tell us about the poppy fields, the terrible mine blasts, battling opium traffickers and drugs,” says Mohammadi.

These women created the game in one month at the Code to Inspire computer training center in the city of Herat. They hope the game will raise awareness of Afghanistan’s struggle to eliminate large opium poppy fields, which are controlled and profited from by the Taliban. Currently, Afghanistan is the world’s top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced.

Code to Inspire (CTI) is a girls-only computer programming school in Herat and was founded by Fereshteh Forough, who was born an Afghan refugee in Iran. After the fall of the Taliban, Forough returned to Afghanistan where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in computer science at the University of Herat and later obtained her Master’s degree from Technical University of Berlin in Germany. Forough seeks to break gender barriers and empower Afghan girls to learn to code as a way to change their lives.

CTI houses over 80 girls, both high school and university students and provides courses in coding, access to tech and professional resources as well as job placement, allowing CTI students to attain employment that is both financially rewarding and socially accessible. In Afghanistan, women’s travel is heavily restricted, making it crucial for women to have the ability to work remotely. “It’s not easy for a girl to find a job and go to work outside of her home in Afghanistan,” says CTI project manager Hasib Rassa. “Now, with just one laptop at home, she can work online and earn money and help her family.”

 

 

Media Resources: Winnipeg Free Press 2/6/18; Christian Science Monitor 2/6/18;

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