Updated: Feb 3, 2019
By: Max DiGiacomo
Parisa Ahmadi is intelligent and hardworking. She loves writing and wants to become a doctor.
She can accomplish all of her goals and more. However, what she can’t do is open a bank account—most girls living in Afghanistan can’t.
Afghani women are a financially disenfranchised group; they are often denied bank accounts due to cultural norms that were established by the Mujahideen and then the Taliban. Though women’s rights have advanced since the Taliban’s downfall, they still do not match up when compared globally.
In a lot of Middle Eastern countries, women need explicit permission from a male to open a bank account. Unfortunately, many women do not get such permissions.
Parisa was one of the “lucky” ones, she was allowed to transfer any money she had into the bank account of a male family member. In many instances, women have their funds entirely controlled by their male counterparts.
One thing these men and oppressive rulers can't control is the blockchain. In The Age of Cryptocurrency, Paul Vigna and Michael Casey told the world Parisa’s story. It started with BitLanders in 2014.
BitLanders pays content creators like bloggers and filmmakers to produce various forms of media for their social platform. The catch is that they pay these freelance employees in Bitcoin.
The founder of BitLanders, Francesco Rulli, saw a solution to Parisa’s problem. Rulli could help women in the middle east while simultaneously reducing the amount of transaction fees he would incur. Sounds like a win-win, right? Girls like Parisa wouldn’t have to abide by the discriminatory laws of the land, and Bitlanders could save some overhead on fees.
For girls like Parisa, Bitcoin represents something greater than a digital currency. She can’t buy everything with Bitcoin in today’s economy, but she can do spend her Bitcoin without the permission of a male, or government, or any person for that matter. To Parisa, Bitcoin is about freedom and independence in a culture that offers little of either to women.