Teenage girls from Afghanistan who won a variety of international competitions with their innovative robotics advancements are now considered “An example of hope, happiness, and a sense of pride for the Afghan community” by many. The team consists of 20 individuals aged 12-18 who have been working together on projects later exhibited in North America and Europe. Their story is especially inspiring, as only about 17% of women are literate in Afghanistan, making the Afghan Girls Robotics Team the embodiment of commitment and dedication.
Getting an education in Afghanistan is especially hard for a woman, considering that most girls are not taught how to read or write, making succeeding in the fields of sciences and robotics nearly unattainable for most. Fatemah Qaderyan, the captain of Afghanistan’s all-girl robotics team, states that with the help of the “Digital Citizen Fund,” she and other girls were able to attend digital literacy training, which was the first step in her journey within the field of innovative technology. Notably, for Fatemah learning programming was a way to express her creativity and use the power of imagination to develop something innovative.
One of the team’s very first international appearances took place in 2017, specifically during the global robotics competition that was held in the US. Girls presented the ball-sorting robot that was meant to distinguish between clean and contaminated water, winning them a medal for “courageous achievement.” During the same year, team members, Kawsar Rashan, Lida Azizi, Somayeh Faruqi, and Rodaba Noori, acquired the “Entrepreneur Award” at the Robotex festival in Estonia, which is the biggest robotics festival in Europe. Later, in 2018, girls competed in Canada, receiving the “Rookie Star Award” and meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau. Kimberly Motley, the human rights lawyer, described the girls’ encounter with Trudeau as a “huge life-changing experience.”
Their accomplishments were particularly notable, helping some team members to escape Afghanistan in 2021 due to the recent events. Five members of the Girls Robotics Team fleed Afghanistan on one of the last commercial flights landing in Pakistan. Girls are now residing in Mexico while seeking asylum in Canada. Taliban is currently passing the law that would prevent girls from getting education, advocating for boys-only schools, which is one of the primary reasons the Girls Robotics Team had to flee the country.
Nevertheless, the team has a message for women who are currently still in Afghanistan.
“My message to my generation is that to please don’t lose your hope; I know it’s difficult because I’m an Afghan girl, too, and I fully understand you. But please don’t lose your spirit, there is always light in darkness and just make your dream and follow your dream and believe that one day your dream will come true because I experienced that.“ – Kawsar Roshan (the member of Afghan Girls Robotics Team)
While being away from home, girls believe that one day they can come back to Afghanistan when the oppressive rule of the Taliban will cease. As of now, young women are looking forward to continuing their educational paths in the universities in the United States, with a focus on STEM fields.
Written by WAVE Intern Polina Lynova
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- Literacy Rates in Afghanistan – The Borgen Project
- Afghan girls robotics team’s message for women in the country – CNN
- Afghanistan’s all-girls robotics team reportedly desperate to flee country (nypost.com)
- The Afghan Girls Robotics Team | Asia Society
- Afghan All-Girl Robotics Team Offered Scholarships at Top US Colleges (businessinsider.com)
- How I became captain of the winning all-girls Afghan robotics team (opinion) – CNN
- An All-Girl Afghan Robotics Team Win at Biggest Robotics Festival in Europe (ummahsonic.com)