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An All-Girl Afghan Robotics Team Win at Biggest Robotics Festival in Europe

Please don’t feel bad if you didn’t catch the results of the FIRST Global Challenge robotics competition that took place in Washington DC in July. The event, which attracted teams of teenagers from over 150 nations, didn’t exactly make headline news. However, there was one happy story from the proceedings that did hop around some corners of social media.

The Afghanistan squad, a group made up entirely of girls, won a silver medal for ‘courageous achievement,’ an award recognising the teams that displayed a ‘can-do’ attitude in the face of difficult circumstances or unforeseen obstacles while preparing for the competition.

What were these circumstances and/or obstacles? The team originally had their applications for visas to enter the USA rejected, and it took the direct intervention of the US State Department to ultimately allow them to enter the country.

The Afghan team’s victory, in hindsight, seems like it was about more than overcoming red tape. As FIRST Global President, former U.S. Navy Admiral and Congressman Joe Sestak, said of Afghanistan’s late inclusion: ‘I truly believe our greatest power is the power to convene nations, to bring people together in the pursuit of a common goal and prove that our similarities greatly outweigh our differences.’

Who knew of the power of robotics to unite us all?

It’s clear that the girls’ victory in Washington DC was a precursor for future success, because the team scored another victory on the other side of the Atlantic last month.

During a weekend in late November, the girls – Kawsar Rashan, Lida Azizi, Somayeh Faruqi, and Rodaba Noori – won the Entrepreneur Award at the Robotex festival in Tallinn, Estonia, the biggest robotics festival in Europe.

The Afghanistan embassy in London reacted to the news with a glowingly proud tweet:

These remarkable young women have certainly been through a lot in their pursuit of technological innovation. Their back-to-back success proves how a commitment to knowledge and a passion to create can help anyone achieve their goals – no matter where they come from.

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