To participate in the RightBrains Challenge, I will cover a groundbreaking innovation from an unlikely place, which nonetheless reaffirms the prevalence of great female minds all over the world.

Afghanistan is a country that has been under armed, foreign invasion since late 2001. It was the country America retaliated against, after Osama Bin Laden and Al Qeada claimed responsibility for the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks. While the terrorist group in the country have largely been beaten, American troops still engage on Afghan soil, with no clear end in sight. You’d think you’d have heard it all from the landlocked country, which international mainstream media only attribute the Taliban and Opium poppy production to. Even I, because of news stations like CNN, don’t think any better.

Well, I’m here to tell you today that we’re ALL wrong! Allow me to introduce the hottest commodity of Asia at the moment, Ms Shuhra Khoofi.

Shuhra is an undergraduate student who hails from a prominent political family in Afghanistan. Both her grandfather and father were popular politicians and activists who altruistically served their country. Unfortunately, they paid for their service to humanity, with their lives, due to terrorism. This hasn’t stopped the dynamo that is in their family, though. Shuhra’s mother is active in politics, too and encourages Shuhra to take on a leadership role, too.

While her expertise may not lie directly in politics, it’s equally as important. At her young age, Shuhra has already attended numerous workshops on education leadership and has forged ties with key stakeholders in the sector. Having traveled extensively throughout Afghanistan, with her mother, Shuhra has not only seen the gritty reality of Afghans, but also the subtle and not so subtle conditions of gender inequality that plague Afghan women and girls. This remarkable life experience has given her the idea to revolutionize education, the way the world has never seen before:

Introducing, Edu-Cell, by Shuhra Khoofi.

Edu-Cell is a paradigm-shifting concept that is cutting edge in constitution, yet simple in implementation and usage. It addresses 2 Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 4 (providing quality education) and SDG 5 (reducing gender inequality in education). How does it do this? Well, that’s the fun part.

Edu-Cell is a simple app that is available to Android phone users. Rather than using expensive software to relay videos, which will be data heavy and expensive, Edu-Cell provides middle school education (grades 6, 7 & 8) in a variety of subjects, in series of short, 15 minute audio files (mp3). It gets better. It doesn’t just send the content in bulk – it acts like a real school – a student has to pass a test before being promoted to a higher grade. Every audio clip is complemented by an SMS that is sent to the user, after each audio class. This SMS contains the main points of the class, in summary. Think it can’t get any better? Check this: this high quality education is provided to all Afghans in their main languages, namely Dari, Pashto & English. The astounding reality of this novel application is that marginalized children across Afghanistan can be taught, regardless of grim conditions of being in a poor family, or not being allowed to go to school, or dropping out before middle school, as is common among many girls in rural Afghanistan. Edu-Cell thus ensures that sound girl education is not only ensured throughout Afghanistan, but also extremely affordably, too. It costs a mere $2 per month to subscribe to it.

3 experienced teachers are already working on the scheme, which has recently been selected by the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition, a UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development, as a finalist in Best Idea 2017 category. Together with 9 other ideas, Edu-Cell will be showcased internationally for its many merits, to get mentoring, support and collaboration offers. The winning entrepreneur will be announced later this year.

Coming across inspirations like Shuhra reminds us about the dire need to foster girl education worldwide and promote female (tech) entrepreneurs. Shuhra is under 20 years old, but already stands among the greatest minds in modern ICT application globally. Girls like Malala Yusufzai show how tremendous the female mind can be. When you hear of girl education in Asia now, the first thing you think of is Malala. Not anymore, because now Shuhra is in the game and the possibilities for her and her innovation are endless. It makes you think, ‘Are there more female prodigies in Asia, if Malala and Shuhra are so young? There have to be, because these 2 leaders are giants in their domain.’ This isn’t just an Asian thing, though. It’s a female thing! Digital women all around the world are gifted and simply see the world differently. Their unique perception of people and problems, together with their huge acumen for power and development, don’t just catapult them out of hardship – they raise and empower entire communities! That’s why girl education and female empowerment are the most crucial and important denominators in poverty eradication worldwide. However, how long will we still have to wait before ALL governments finally get their act together and promote our natural networkers? Do we have to wait another few more years until another girl phenomenon is discovered by a major development agency and gradually given the real world support her visionary idea needs to become self-sufficient? When is the world’s slow progress slow enough to make leaders frustrated with nothing working out and having to revolutionize the whole system in favour of people-centric development? I think the time is now! Quite frankly, that time came a long time ago!

Shuhra Khoofi is just one example of female greatness and why girls should be shown how they can impact the entire world through technology. Women in technology are a vital part of the global tech industry and anyone who says otherwise is simply not clued up on it. Like in the movie Hidden Figures, there are many unsung female heroes in digital technology, all over the world. The female mind is a vast portal of raw, untapped and brilliant concepts and energy. Refusing to harness it for the benefit of all is one of the biggest crimes to humanity in modern time.

I heartily congratulate you, Shuhra, for Edu-Cell! I look forward to its roll-out in Afghanistan and it’s franchised replication across the world, especially in a host of developing countries where girl education is a pressing need for sovereign development.

Good luck!