Afghan all-girl teen robotics team in tears as US bans entry

A group of female Afghan teen tech wizards has reportedly been denied entry into the US to take part in an international robotics competition.

 

Forbes reports the all-girl team representing Afghanistan were in tears when their one-week travel visa to compete in the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge in Washington DC was denied.

The team of six had reportedly travelled from Herat, in Afghanistan’s west, to the American embassy in Kabul, the site of a number of recent attacks, to apply for visas.

But the team was reportedly rejected twice.

The team wanted to show their work off at a competition in the US. Source: FIRST Global

Fatemah, 14, told Forbes the team was eager to show its work.

"We want to show the world we can do it, we just need a chance,” she said.

The team’s raw materials were also reportedly held up in customs for months amid fears over ISIS’ use of robots on the battlefield, and the team only received them three weeks ago.

Citadel software CEO Roya Mahboob, Afghanistan’s first female tech CEO, brought the girls together for the project and said it was a “very important message” for the Afghan people.


“Robotics is very, very new in Afghanistan,” she said.

Ms Mahboob said the girls were “crying all day” when they got the news they wouldn’t be heading to the US.

Instead the girls are now working on putting the final touches on their ball-sorting robot, which has been cleared to travel to the US to compete against 163 other machines.

FIRST Global president and former congressman Joe Sestak said he was disappointed that the “extraordinarily brave young women” won’t be joining the competition on US soil.

Team Afghanistan and a team from Gambia are the only teams to have reportedly been denied visas.

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