Teams from more than 150 nations prepare to participate in FIRST Global Challenge robotics competition in Washington D.C. this summer. While most of these teams will attend in person, the first all-girl robotics team from Afghanistan will have to rely upon video feeds to see their creation compete.
Despite making two hazardous voyages over 500 miles through areas frequented by suicide bombers to complete the visa process, the six members of Afghanistan’s team were denied a seven-day pass to the United States. However, their robot was cleared through customs and allowed entry to the competition.
These young women are excited about their invention and are not letting this setback slow them down. Understandably, they were quite upset over being denied while competitors from countries like Iraq and Iran were allowed to attend. As reported by Forbes, team member Fatemah says, “We want to show the world we can do it, we just need a chance.”
For a country that has taken great initiative to identify a jarring lack in of female representation in STEM as well as criticized other countries for hindering women from achievement, the U.S. certainly has fallen short in proving their commitment to addressing these concerns. President Trump’s travel ban should not be an excuse for their visa denial as teams from Iraq and Iran, both countries listed on the ban, have been allowed entry.
Involvement in competitions like the FIRST Global Challenge is a major gateway to advancing women everywhere, not just in Afghanistan. While Ivanka Trump touts she is going to champion for women’s issues, even going as far as praising Saudi Arabia for their progress in women’s rights, her outcry towards the oppression of these rising inventors in Afghanistan is nowhere to be heard.
If the Trump family and the United States government are as dedicated to fighting oppression and uplifting the women of the world, where is their action now?