These Afghan all girls team started off as an underdog team, with odds stacked up against them.
Not only were they competing against many, more experienced, more equipped teams from around the world, they also had other factors stacked against them.
The Trump Ban
We’ve all heard of the Trump Muslim Ban. Afghanistan is one of the six Muslim countries banned from entering the US. This all-girls team had applied for a visa to enter the US to attend a robotics competition, and according to the FIRST Global Challenge director, had a fair chance of visa approvals.
They had traveled 500 miles to attend a visa interview in Kabul. However, as of the end of June 2017, their visa applications were denied. They were rejected, not once, but twice for their visa applications.
As they were unable to enter the US and attend the competition in Washington D.C, they had earlier planned on sending their robot for entry alone, while they watch live on Skype.
To be fair to the US administration, other teams from banned countries were granted visas to attend the competition. Syria, Sudan, and Iran are amongst the participants from banned countries granted visas to the US.
Other Odds Stacked Against The Team
– Girls Vs Boys
Afghanistan is mostly a conservative, traditionalist country where men dominate the society. Being in an all-girls team in a robotics competition, a science and technology field where even in the West is dominated by men and boys is a feat of achievement in itself.
– Late Start
When other teams which entered the competition had access to their project materials to build a robot since March 2017, the Afghan team only had access to their materials since mid-June 2017 and had to submit their robotics for their competition in mid-July 2017
– Competing Against 100 Nations
The competition is fielded with teams from around the world, with over 100 nations participating.
– Second Place
The all-girls team won an overall second place, a silver medal, and accolades for courageous achievement.
What Was The Competition About?
The robotics competition is from First Global, an organization that aims to promote Science, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM) studies in children and young adults. The competition is to find solutions for access to clean water.
Who Are The Afghan Team Members?
For more information about these amazing girls, watch their tv interview with Al Jazeera below.