USA denies visas for Afghanistan's all-girl robotics team

Violet Powell
July 4, 2017

The team members are from Towhid, Malakai Jalalai and Hoze Karbas high schools who said they "want to develop and explore our minds and creativity and maybe unveil the genius inside of each one of us".

Visas for a group of Afghan high school girls were denied recently, meaning the team can't enter the compete in an global robotics competition.

One-week visas for entry into the United States were required, and the girls twice made the risky journey to Kabul to be interviewed at the US Embassy.

As Forbes reported, the six girls have also had less time than the other competitors, because they weren't able to get their materials on time.

In their profile on the FIRST Global website, Team Afghanistan wrote, "We want to make a difference, and most breakthroughs in science, technology, and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great".

An all-female team from Afghanistan hoping to take part in an worldwide robotics competition has been denied entry visas to the U.S.

Mahmood says she doesn't understand why Afghanistan is among the only two countries denied visa for the competition. They did this not just once, but twice in the hopes of securing seven-day visas to the US.

A team of six schoolgirls from Afghanistan who won places in an global robotics competition have been denied travel visas to the United States. Thus, they could still compete in the FIRST Global Challenge, though the robot and its creators would be in separate countries, with the girls communicating through a video conference.

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Joe Sestak, First Global president described the girls as "extraordinarily courageous young women".

She says the girls were "crying all day" when they found out about the visas. "And having them not be here for that is certainly very saddening I think in many ways".

The girls were notified by competition officials that they will instead be able to Skype into the event and show off their creations over the web.

Mahboob said that founding the team sent an important message in Afghanistan.

Data show that very few visas are granted to Afghan nationals, only 112 were issued in May 2017, compared with 780 to Iraqis - which was on the initial ban list, but later removed.

Let that sink in for just a second, this all girl robotics team from Afghanistan was so eager to compete that they literally risked their lives to do so.

The team from Afghanistan isn't alone in being rejected, according to Sestak. Teams from Iraq, Iran and Sudan will be at the competition.

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