Afghanistan Girls' Robotics Team

Education/tech

IN MARCH 2020, NAZA VISITED WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN AFGHANISTAN, TO HEAR THEIR STORIES AND LEARN FIRST-HAND OF THEIR RESILIENCE.

They have been subjected to four decades of conflict, and it is estimated that 18.4 million people in Afghanistan are in humanitarian need in 2021. The ongoing situation exacerbates gender-based violence, and heightens barriers for women and girls in accessing services and opportunities. Girls and women face deeply entrenched gender inequalities and systemic discrimination. They’re constrained and isolated by traditional and negative societal norms, which often lead to them being torn away from their school, family and friends. 1 in 3 girls in Afghanistan are married by the time they are 18.

IT IS PARTICULARLY CHALLENGING FOR AFGHAN GIRLS TO ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS AND ASPIRATIONS. THEY FACE DISCRIMINATION, ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS, EXPOSURE TO CONFLICT, DISPLACEMENT, TRAUMA, AND A LACK OF SUPPORT SERVICES.

In a patriarchal society, their decisions are often made for them. There are formidable barriers to education, access to connectivity and technology, protection and empowerment.
With such formidable barriers to education, It is particularly hard for them to access the subjects traditionally dominated by men: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

NAZA HAD THE GREAT PRIVILEGE OF MEETING THE AFGHAN GIRLS' ROBOTIC TEAM IN HERAT, LED BY ROYA MAHBOOB, WHO TOOK HER THROUGH AN INCREDIBLE DISPLAY OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ROBOTICS.

The girls, aged 15-17, had even developed a ventilator made from old car parts.
The Girls Robotics Team isn't just a space for tech; it also acts as a ‘virtual safe space’ for adolescent girls to access GBV, self care and mental health information safely.
Naza supports UNICEF and the Digital Citizen Fund in exploring innovative ways to provide affordable and accessible STEM education to adolescent girls. The aim is to empower them to participate and gain essential life skills, so they can overcome the pressure to conform to prevailing and harmful gender norms.

Photographs by Omid Fazel | Dejongh


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