Visas have been granted to a group of Afghan girls scheduled to take part in a global robotics contest in Washington next week, following a public uproar over news that their initial application was twice turned down.
The reversal on the part of U.S. authorities follows an intervention by President Donald Trump, reports Politico Wednesday, citing administration officials.
“We could not be prouder of this delegation of young women who are also scientists — they represent the best of the Afghan people and embody the promise that their aspirations can be fulfilled,” said deputy national security advisor Dina Powell in a statement.
The struggles faced by the team of six — from building their robot to overcoming gender-role barriers, and a literal 500-mile journey they had to take to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul for their visa application, made national headlines in the U.S. after the initial refusal became news.
Based in the city of Herat, the group will be in D.C. to represent Afghanistan at the FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics competition aimed at encouraging interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) among youth worldwide.
“We want to develop and explore our minds and creativity and maybe unveil the genius inside of each one of us,” reads the Afghan team’s introduction on the contest’s website.