The All-Girl Afghan Robotics Team banned from entering the USA

  • A year ago, the Afghan entrepreneur represented a four-strong girl’s Robotics team from Afghanistan to present a robot prototype for a competition held in Washington DC. Mahboob, who lives in New York and was the first woman CEO of a tech company in Afghanistan, found herself in a difficult situation when the girls were denied a visa to the US. President Donald Trump had just signed his “Muslim Ban” executive order, which barred people from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Afghanistan, from entering the US.
  • When she saw that the ban had prevented the girl’s’ participation to the competition, Sarah Porter, founder of Inspired Minds, a tech and science strategy group focused on building communities around emerging technology, felt she had to intervene.
  • She contacted Mahboob and spent six months trying to raise awareness about the girls’ situation—they were eventually given a visa, and when they returned home, a movement started.
  • “We started this with inspiration from the girls,” Mahboob said. “They brought a huge sense of pride, hope and unity to the Afghan community.” This weekend, the Afghan Dreamers won the Rookie Inspiration Award at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in Detroit.
  • Not only did they inspire people at home, the girls also opened the eyes of many artificial intelligence field experts who saw the team’s ban as a blatant example of exclusion in tech.

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