Afghanistan’s all-girl robotics team is continuing to impress after the teenagers’ appearence at the FIRST Global Challenge in the U.S., a robotics competition for young adults, by winning the top award at the Robotex festival in Estonia, the biggest festival of its kind in Europe.
In early July, it was reported that the girls, who were brought together by Afghanistan’s first female tech CEO, Roya Mahboob, had been denied one-week entry visas into the U.S. on two separate occasions — presumably because they had fallen afoul of Trump’s travel ban. In the midst of public outrage, Trump intervened and the U.S. allowed the girl’s entry into the country. Despite having had four months less to work on their robots than any other competitors at the Global Challenge, the girls won a silver medal for courage amidst fiercely competitive teams from more than 150 countries around the globe. Tragically, the father of 14-year-old Fatemah Qaderyan, the team’s captain, was murdered in a suicide bombing claimed by ISIS just 10 days after the competition.
Despite the challenges thrown at them, at home and abroad, the teenagers rallied to a remarkable victory at the Robotex festival in Tallinn, Estonia, winning the competition’s Entrepreneur Award. After their performance in the U.S., the girls were given a hero’s welcome on their return to Afghanistan, where two-thirds of girls ages 12 to 15 are already out of school.
“Their success shows that Afghan girls, despite the challenges, can be good inspirations in the field of knowledge and technology,” President Ashraf Ghani said at the time. Needless to say, these girls have earned their accolades.
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