Appointing women State Council judges ‘a matter of time’: State Council Pres.
entering mosques: Kerala HC rejects Hindu group’s petition
our girls from child marriage
arrests over Instagram baby-selling ring in Indonesia
in blind judo? Athletes' safety comes first
Fair for Saudi women offers 1,356 job opportunities
set to lambast France for its 'discriminatory' 2010 burqa ban
Muslim woman adopts Hinduism, says no respect for women in Islam
criticised for selling hijabs for schoolgirls as young as nine
talaq illegal in Islam: Kalbe Jawwad
extremists: Don't free Christian woman on death row
Arab women bike around the Middle East in new Fox show
I became captain of the winning all-girls Afghan robotics team
by New Age Islam News Bureau
women State Council judges ‘a matter of time’: Egypt’s State Council
State Council President Ahmed Abou Al-Azm said there was no constitutional
prohibition to appointing women as judges in the State Council, adding that the
State Council itself has no objection to the matter. However, he said the
entire process was a “matter of time”, as there are protocols that have to be
followed to appoint women as state council judges, some of which include
vacating suitable positions for women.
a speech he gave at the International Conference of the Arab Union of
Administrative Judiciary, Abou Al-Azm added that, at that point, Egypt is
content with the number of female ministers in the current government, which is
evidence that Egypt is keen on women participating in different fields.
a similar note, ex-Minister of Communications Maged Othman said that giving the
chance for women to have access to all leadership positions has become a
priority of utmost importance, as it is a basic right for women.
has been taking many steps in the field of gender equality in leadership
positions in recent years. The appointment of Egyptian females’ in government
leadership positions has been seeing a gradual increase since 2015.
the current government has eight female ministers: Minister of Planning Hala
El-Saeed, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr,
Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriate’s Affairs Nabila Makram,
Minister of Culture Inas Abdel Dayem, Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali,
Minister of Environment Yasmeen Fouad, Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat and
Minister of Health Hala Zayed.
Egypt recently appointed two female governors: Beheira Governor Nadia Abdou,
who was appointed in 2017, and Damietta Governor Manal Awad Mikhail, who became
Egypt’s first female Coptic governor in the most recent shuffle in 2018.
have also been taking positive steps in being an integral part of the judiciary
system. In 2015, Egypt swore in 26 new female judges, the largest number to be
sworn in since 2007, bringing the total number of female judges in the country
to 80. In August 2018, 16 female Egyptian judges were promoted to higher
division bench of the Kerala high court on Thursday rejected a petition, filed
by the the Hindu Mahasabha, seeking entry of Muslim women in mosques.
petition was moved by Dethathreya Sai Swaroop Nath, president of Akhil
Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha. The petition was filed days after the Supreme Court
lifted the ban on entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala temple.
a direction to the Centre to allow Muslim women to enter mosques, the
petitioner said Muslim women faced discrimination as they are not allowed to
pray in the main hall at mosques. The
petitioner said not allowing women to enter mosques denies them Constitutional
rights under Articles 21 and 14. He said imposition of purdah for Muslim women
infringed upon their personal freedom.
the petition, the division bench, comprising Chief Justice Rishikesh Roy and A
K Jayasankaran Nambiar, said Muslim women have not raised the issue.
Kozhikode-based forum NISA — advocating reforms in Muslim personal law and
supporting a uniform civil code — has decided to file a petition in the Supreme
Court demanding entry of Muslim women in mosques belonging to the Sunni
international #MeToo movement catalysed the long-awaited reckoning of powerful
male figures guilty of sexual crimes.
home, this coincided with the election of a new government in May, paving the
way for the appointment of the first female deputy prime minister.
deputy prime minister, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s stewardship of the Women,
Family and Community Development portfolio signals the present administration’s
determination to prioritise women’s issues.
optimism waned however when the country was rocked by media reports on underage
marriage. In July this year, news outlets reported the marriage of an
11-year-old girl in Kelantan to a 41-year-old man, becoming his third wife.
reason for marriage? A supposed desire to “protect and provide” for her, as she
was uneducated and came from a destitute family.
reasons were cited for the marriage of a 15-year-old Kelantanese girl to a 44-year-old
father of two last month. The parents reportedly consented to the arrangement
because they wanted her to have a “more comfortable life”.
these two cases may seem like isolated incidents, approximately 82,000 child
marriages have been recorded in Malaysia up until 2010.
exact reasons for the prevalence of underaged marriage in Malaysia are unclear.
Opinions on potential solutions have also been polarised. But regardless of the
drivers and the specific solutions, Malaysians appear unequivocal in their
disapproval of the practice.
problem has been the subject of intense debate in the print, electronic and
social media as the public has demanded firm and immediate response from
what do Malaysian youths think about child marriage?
a survey we recently conducted with hundreds of Form 4 students in 10 schools
in Taiping and Kuala Lumpur, a majority of male and female respondents
disagreed with the view that it was acceptable for girls to be married before
the age of 18.
asked to elaborate on the lack of support for the view, a student from a girls’
school insisted that it would “prevent them from achieving their fullest
potential” – an opinion echoed by a male student in a co-educational school in
the same study, respondents also agreed that delaying marriage for the sake of
their career would be acceptable, with no significant differences between males
preliminary evidence we have gathered based on conversations with adolescents
in Kuala Lumpur and Perak shows that respondents clearly reject child marriage
as a social practice and they are aware of how it limits their life choices.
solutions to tackle the problem, however, has caused much schism.
policymakers, activists, and concerned citizens have renewed their call to
raise the minimum age for marriage across all states, especially for Muslims.
For Muslims, marriages under the age of 16 are permitted with the approval of a
non-Muslims, the consent of the chief minister of the state is required, except
in cases of customary marriages conducted within the indigenous communities.
of the move to raise the minimum age for marriage among Muslims, such as Omar
Nik Abdullah, the vice-president of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), argue that
such reforms would contravene religious teachings.
an interpretation is not only dangerous, but also misleading as it minimises
the scores of religious opinions on the detriment of child marriages.
the problem further, Malaysia’s unique dual legislative system (civil and
shariah) places Muslim family and marriage laws under the purview of each
state. This complicates matters as a uniform amendment to each state’s shariah
enactments would require the consent of each of the country’s nine sultans as
well as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
minimum age of marriage is also different for males and females in both civil
and shariah laws, with the age for males set at 18 and females at 16. Why does
such a disparity exist? Is it for the benefit of males over females, from the
standpoint of both the education and labour markets?
the reason, the differing minimum ages signal an implicit ‘permission’ for
parents to marry girls off earlier than boys. These are fundamental questions
that merit further public scrutiny and debate alongside solutions to tackle
a historic year when Malaysia has appointed the first female deputy prime
minister and girls outnumber boys in many public universities, the practice of
marrying off daughters blights the country’s ambition to become an example for
women empowerment around the world.
the challenge before the newly elected Pakatan Harapan government is to ensure
that regardless of race, religion and gender, no Malaysian girl by 2030 will
look at child marriage as a means to a better life. – October 12, 2018.
in Indonesia's second-largest city Surabaya have made four arrests after
breaking up an alleged baby-selling ring run from an Instagram account.
account claimed to be linked to the Family Welfare Institute and a Facebook
group called the Child Care Foundation, according to local media reports.
account holder identified himself as "AP" and said he was a
29-year-old man helping find solutions to family problems.
Oct. 9, police arrested Alton Phinandita Prianto, along with a 22-year-old
woman who had tried to sell her baby boy, a broker, and a would-be buyer.
four are each facing a maximum of 15
years' jail for violating the Indonesian Child Protection Act.
allege the illegal baby selling started in August after "testimonies"
and photos from both buyers and sellers were posted on the Instagram account,
attracting over 600 followers.
August and October, four babies under one year of age, were sold for US$1,500
Instagram account is still active and has more than 740 followers.
of the posts reads:"I am unmarried and seven months pregnant. My plan is
to find someone who wants to adopt my child and provide me with accommodation
until my pregnancy's due date. I don't want my family to find out."
Instagram page also posted photos of mothers with their faces covered who had
allegedly sold their babies.
head of Surabaya Police's Criminal Investigation Unit, Sudamiran, said the
group had camouflaged itself as an adoption agency and sourced the babies from
parents who could not afford to keep them. The children were often born out of
found some messages on their Instagram account offering their service to adopt
out the babies if their parents cannot raise them," Sudarmiran said.
Phinandita Prianto told police he studied family welfare at university and
worked as a volunteer counselor. He allegedly said he used his knowledge and
experience to persuade mothers to sell their babies.
Maryati, a commissioner with the Indonesian Child Protection Commission said
police should not stop at the four arrests.
encourage the police to continue their investigations and finish this case. All
those involved — parents, sellers and buyers — must be brought to justice
because it is really human trafficking," she said.
me to start this piece by extending my profound respect to all athletes with
different abilities including participants of the ongoing Asian Para Games 2018
a hijab-wearing woman who exercises regularly and cycles, I wear a special
sports hijab when exercising.
carefully pick certain cloths for my headscarves because as a sports journalist
my job requires me to move freely and safely.
when a passionate young judoka, Miftahul Jannah, wore a regular hijab to
compete in a physical sport like blind judo — even when she knew the
International Judo Federation (IJF) does not allow the covering of heads in the
arena — safety was the only issue that popped into my mind. Nothing else.
21, was disqualified on Tuesday from competing in the women’s 52 kilogram low
vision category at the Asian Para Games for refusing to take off her hijab.
other martial arts, such as karate and taekwondo, allow female Muslim athletes
to wear a special hijab during competition, judo does not. The IJF Refereeing
Rules Article 4/4 says judoka’s heads shall not be covered, except for bandaging
of a medical nature.
the IJF sport and organization rules mention in an appendix on judogi
(competing attire) that: “Any head covering, socks, jewelry or body piercings
must be removed.”
rules on “default and withdrawal” also state that, “any contestant not willing
to comply with the requirements of hygiene, hair and the head cover regulation
[…] shall be refused the right to compete” and thus the opponent shall win.
additional rule says, “[...] Athletes must enter and leave the field of play
wearing their judogi in the proper way. […] Religious, political, personal or
commercial connotations are prohibited on the field of play.”
yes, the decision to disqualify Miftah was not about her religious views at
Miftah took her case to Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi, immediately
gaining the minister’s attention. She admitted to him that she had known about
the head covering regulation and said that her actions were deliberate, adding
that she wanted to bring about a change in the sport. Imam backed the judoka,
confirming his commitment to help her in challenging the IJF’s head covering
a glance, Miftah seems to follow in the footsteps of Saudi Arabian judoka
Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, who managed to change the rules at the
2012 London Olympics when she wore a modified headscarf while competing.
was one of the first two Saudi Arabians chosen to compete in the Olympics.
it comes to freedom of faith, the news made headlines in no time, cloaking the
case in a religious-based narrative.
wait, let us clear things up.
is a sport played at both the Olympics and Paralympics. The Asian Para Games is
similar to the Paralympics.
the sport upholds the IJF rules in both the Olympics and Paralympics, judo and
para judo are not the same, which makes it improper to take Shaherkani’s case
to challenge the IJF’s head covering rules.
response to the misinterpretation of Miftah’s disqualification, Brian Jeoung
Gissick, a technical delegate for blind judo, said: “Of course blind judo has
its own uniqueness that is different to able-bodied judo.”
added that IJF rules also stated that athletes should tie their hair with
rubber bands to ensure safety among contestants.
should not be covered, except for adhesive bandages or medical tape, he added.
rules are made to protect the athletes [...],” said Gissick, adding that they
were made following thorough research.
Blind Sport Association (IBSA) referee director Angelica Wilhelm said the basic
rules regarding the covering of heads had been introduced to Asian Para Games
participants over the past three months.
rules were also made to avoid disastrous results for athletes [during] nezawa
[ground fighting],” said Wilhelm, referring to grappling techniques that
include clinching, takedowns, throws and sprawling.
Asian Para Games Organizing Committee (INAPGOC) head Raja Sapta Oktohari said
he respected the IJF’s rules and Miftah’s decision.
has been a valuable lesson for all of us. It is important to learn the
regulations before we compete — not just for blind judo, but for all sports,”
Indonesian team reportedly had trouble comprehending the regulations, which are
in English, and no complaint was made during a technical meeting regarding the
head-covering matter prior to the Games.
a Muslim like Miftah, who has decided to switch to blind chess after the
incident, I fully respect her passion to fight for hijab-wearing athletes, and
the minister in backing her.
then again, is Indonesia ready to do the necessary research on the possibility
of the wearing of the hijab in blind judo and also the required diplomacy?
judo masters, hijab-wearing judo practitioners, sports scientists and even
sports fashion gurus should discuss the feasibility of wearing the hijab in the
when it comes to the Olympics and Paralympics, athletes’ safety comes first.
In an effort to help Saudi women who are on social security programs find work,
a special job fair recently offered them 1,356 opportunities.
by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the career fair aims to
provide young Saudis with suitable job opportunities and help increase
communication between the private sector and the providers of training services
that specialize in human resource development.
attending the event were briefed about the ministry and the various
work-related programs offered by affiliated entities.
UN Human Rights Committee is set to rule that France's 2010 law which forbids
people from concealing their face in public is 'discriminatory' and 'goes
against religious freedom', the French media has revealed.
2010, France's controversial burqa ban made headlines around the world, and it
may be about to hit the front pages
UN Human Rights Committee (OHCHR) will shortly reveal its conclusion that the
law, which forbids people from concealing their face in public - goes against
'religious freedom' and is 'discriminatory against women', French media has
OHCHR - a consultative body made up of independent international experts but
which has no legal power to impose law changes and recently some politicians
have called for the law to be hardened.
subject came up last week after it was revealed that after France's most-wanted
man Redoine Faïd was arrested after 3 months on the run, had worn a burqa for
is not the first time the committee has been asked to examine French law.
August, the UN experts handed in their conclusion into the 'Baby Loup' case, in
which a woman called Fatima Afif was fired from a nursery near Paris in 2008
for flouting company rules by wearing a headscarf.
ruled that France had infringed religious freedom and that the case breached
international agreements on human rights.
woman's lawyers took the case to the UN body after France's highest court
endorsed her dismissal in 2014 after a long legal battle. That year, the French
court's decision was also upheld by the European Court of Human
Rights.Thecommittee advised the French government to take the necessary steps
to prevent similar actions in the future.
controversial case, named after the name of the nursery where it happened - was
the basis for a new law on religious neutrality in private nurseries in France.
France, which has Europe's largest Muslim population, tensions over Muslim
headwear and other religious clothing regularly flare up, pitting the country's
cherished secular constitution against religious freedoms.
spate of jihadist terrorist attacks in recent years has made these issues
well as the 2010 burqa ban France also introduced a law in 2004 which banned
'ostensible' religious symbols or items of clothing in state primary and
secondary schools as well as all state-run buildings like town halls.
of the 2010 law, brought in under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, argued that
its main aim was as a security measure to bar anyone from being able to hide
their identity in public. Supporters also said it would help promote freedom
and respect for women.
critics at the time argued that the law was simply brought in to win votes and
pander to the increasingly Islamophobic right.
it introduced the burqa ban in 2010, France was the first European country to
do so. Denmark and the Netherlands have since followed suit.
A 24-year-old Muslim woman, Arshi Khan from Mathura, adopted Hindu religion on
Thursday, while claiming that women do not have any respect in Islam.
after converting, Arshi filed an application with the SSP office claiming that
she had taken the decision to convert to Hinduism on her own and because of her
faith and love for Lord Krishna. Talking to the media, she said that her
decision was influenced by the fact that "in Islam women have no
statement that “while Hindus pray Goddess Durga, Laxmi and Sita, there is no
place for women in Islam” is bound to invite the ire of the Muslim community and
said that she had changed her name from Arshi to Arushi.
has started selling hijabs for schoolgirls as young as nine after hundreds of
schools requested that it supply uniforms for Muslims.
garments, bought by parents who want their daughters to cover their hair while
at school, were made available for the first time at M&S this summer due to
clothes giant works with 250 schools as their uniform supplier, and as part of
the service a number of schools requested hijabs alongside shirts, skirts and
move has been met with outrage from campaigners, some of whom accused the store
of oppressing children.
hijabs are on sale for £6 in M&S's "School Essentials" section
and are designed to fit girls from aged nine upwards.
which means "partition", is worn by Muslim women in front of any man
they could theoretically marry. Hijab
does not need to be worn in front of other Muslim women, but there is some
debate about whether it should be worn in front of non-Muslim women.
comes shortly after the retailer launched a "modest" range aimed at
Muslim women featuring a "burkini" swimsuit, which was so popular
that it sold out.
night experts warned that by allowing their daughters to wear the hijab at
school, parents could be harming their ability to fully integrate with other
Smithers, Buckingham, head of centre for education and employment research,
said: "M&S are obviously responding to the market, but I am surprised
that hijabs are to be part of the school uniform, because in schools I think we
have the best hope of developing an integrated society with a common set of
values. The hijab does tend to set children apart.
decision to wear distinctive clothing as expected by your religion should be
taken into adulthood rather, than being imposed upon children by their cultural
background while at school.
should be the melting pot of society and should help integration by delivering
a common set of values."
M&S spokesman said, “We provide bespoke uniforms for 250 schools across the
country and they tell us which items they need as part of their school uniform
list. For a number of schools this year, they requested the option of the
Radio presenter and founder of the Quilliam Foundation Maajid Nawaz, said:
"Little girls are told it is "immodest" to show their hair. And
blessed be the fruit.
is still imposed (only on women) by law in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and many
other countries. This is gender apartheid. Marks and Spencer are free to sell
confederate flag tee-shirts too, but I bet they never will."
Noted Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad said that Islam has declared triple
talaq as illegal but the government should not interfere in religious affairs.
He said Muslim Personal Law should take initiative to put a complete ban on
triple talaq. He said it is against the Quran. He further said talaq on phone,
email and letter can also be not accepted. Islam doesn’t allow the oppression
of women, hence triple talaq should strictly be banned and this should be done
under Muslim personal law.
the issue of Babri-Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi Maulana Kalbe Jawwad said Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh and BJP national president
Amit Shah have always said that Ram temple issue will be resolved either
through talks or through court judgment hence Muslims should not pay attention
to the statements of other leaders on the issue.
Pakistani extremist Islamist party is demanding the country's Supreme Court
uphold the death sentence for a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy.
Bibi has appealed her sentence and the court earlier this week postponed ruling
on the final appeal. Her lawyers say she was falsely accused.
Tehreek-e-Labbaik party said on Wednesday that if the court's three-judge panel
frees Bibi, the judges will face "consequences". The party also says
its supporters will rally on Friday to demand death for Bibi.
charge against Bibi dates back to a hot day in 2009 when she went to get water
for fellow farm workers. Two Muslim women refused to drink from a container
used by a Christian.
was later accused of insulting Islam's prophet, a charge which carries the
a new travel show titled The Open Road, two Arab women battle against the
elements and face their biggest fears as they travel through the Middle East on
a pair of Harley Davidsons.
three weeks, Pamela Nabhan and Chantal Asaad took their motorcycles from the
UAE to Lebanon to Jordan and back, discovering breathtaking panoramas and
experiencing death-defying adventures along the way.
life-changing journey, which began at Cafe Rider in Dubai and ended in Sharjah,
marks the first Fox Original Production to come out of the region, and
premieres on October 13.
in the UAE, Asaad had previously visited both Lebanon and Jordan. But on a
bike, she said, it was a whole different experience. They interacted with
“children, mothers, fathers, grandparents — anybody and everybody.”
a car, nobody talks to you. On a bike, people approach you. You can’t
experience any place properly without a bike,” she said.
is Emirati on her father’s side, with roots in Palestine and a Canadian
upbringing, while Nabhan hails from Beirut, Lebanon.
two were acquaintances before the show, but had never ridden together. Hitting
the road and enduring tough circumstances side-by-side changed the course of
became really close. We shared lots of beautiful adventures, lots of
experiences, and at the same time, lots of fear and challenges,” said Nabhan.
journey transported them from the jagged terrains of Jebel Jais in Ras Al
Khaimah to the vast valley of Wadi Rum east of Aqaba.
in their leather jackets (to protect against road rash in case they fall), they
came up against 40-degree weather in the UAE, mild cold in Lebanon, and rainy
conditions and a sandstorm in Jordan.
the longest stretch of road was from Amman to Petra. Without a production crew,
the ride would have taken four to five hours. With an episode to shoot, it took
the women eight hours to complete. When they went to bed, Asaad could still
hear the roar of the road in her ears.
a trip like that, your whole body is still shaking because of the adrenalin,”
Nabhan received the itinerary for The Open Road “four or five months ago”, she
was fully on board with the idea of cross-country riding and cuisine hopping,
but terrified of extreme sports.
don’t like heights. I love riding, I love speed, I love adrenalin, I love
exploring new things — but on the ground. My biggest fear was paragliding,” she
Asaad thrilled at the opportunity to zipline and paraglide. She was more
concerned with what they had to eat and where they had to sleep, earning her
the name of “bougie rider” and “princess” from her friends.
on a bike, you’ve got to just put up with it. Some places were not typically
places I go to,” she said.
is a princess in the way of make-up and girlie stuff. Just roughing it up with
her, she gave me the strength to do it,” she added, with a laugh. “We complete
a visit home to Canada a few years ago, Asaad decided she wanted to get her
motorcycle permit. It would only take her three days. When she began riding
sports bikes, she was hooked on the feeling and called it “a breathtaking
moved to the UAE six years ago, where the riding community welcomed her with
open arms. She didn’t come up against any resistance as an Arab woman in the
such a misconception. I’ve actually found the opposite. People are so happy to
see women riding, and they want to help out when you’re a new rider,” said
Nabhan had been passionate about bikes for as long as she could remember.
I was little, I had two neighbours who had bikes, and I always used to ride
with them. My parents would go crazy, but I couldn’t help it,” said Nabhan. She
felt that growing up in Lebanon fuelled her obsession.
Lebanon, there were hard times and conflict, so I was always looking for some
adventure, adrenalin and freedom,” she said.
a freelance journalist, before becoming a rider herself, Nabhan followed the
Lebanese chapter of Harleys Owners Group (HOG) to report about the causes they
represented. But four years ago, she faced difficulties in her own life, from
work stress to personal hardships.
all my issues got resolved, I needed some time for me. I needed to switch from
being just a passenger to a rider,” said Nabhan.
through photos of motorcycles, she impulsively bought her first one, a Harley
Davidson she named Sky, before she even learnt how to ride. As her motorcycle
was being shipped to her home, she completely panicked. She had to return it.
But once she saw it in person, there was no turning back.
was in love with her. It was really hard at the beginning — it’s not a piece of
cake, it’s really not. It was a heavy bike. But I really wanted to ride, from
the bottom of my heart,” said Nabhan.
fear of getting behind the wheel — or rather, the handlebar — disappeared
without explanation. In April, Nabhan was elected the director of the Ladies of
Harley (also part of HOG) in Lebanon, bringing her journey full circle.
first heard about The Open Road through her former boss, and naively told him
to inform her when the series premiered so she could watch it. Little did she
know, she would be one of the show’s stars. For Nabhan, seeing Lebanon through
Asaad’s eyes was a special treat.
you have someone with you that is not very familiar with the country, it’s like
you’re discovering it all over again,” she said.
said the show is for adventure seekers and those who are too scared to discover
their own potential.
are things on this show that I thought I would never do,” she said. “If I can
change and have those experiences, anyone can.”
first season runs for six episodes, but a second season — also starring Asaad
and Nabhan — could be in the cards. Would the women be up for it?
that has riding, yes,” said Asaad. “Let’s go — when are we starting?”
Open Road premieres in the UAE at 8pm on October 13 on Fox, Fox Life, Fox
Rewayat, Fox Family, Fox Crime, Fox Movies, FX, Fox Action, National Geographic
Abu Dhabi, Star Movies and Star World. Subsequent episodes will air weekly,
only on Fox Life, Fox Rewayat, National Geographic Abu Dhabi and Star World.
love asking questions. As a child, I questioned just about everything. Why was
my country different than the ones I saw on television shows and in movies? Why
was my gender an obstacle to me becoming a leader someday? Why was educating
young girls seen as so threatening to the leaders of my country?
mother would attempt to answer my questions. But in doing so, she would also
tell me stories about a dark time in my country, a time when the Taliban
required women to stay inside their homes, a time when ignorance and servitude
were forced upon us. Hearing these stories, I realized that my own sisters were
the victims of this regime. The world they knew left no room for knowledge or
long ago, the Taliban prevented all girls from going to school. Today, almost
40% of Afghan girls attend school. But due to poverty, lack of teachers and
supplies and cultural prejudice, millions of girls still do not have access to
am fortunate enough to be an exception -- to come from a family where I have
always been encouraged to explore and to watch the occasional animated movie.
When I was six years old, I saw "Robots," an animated film about the
possibilities of robots. Inspired, I promised my mom that someday I would make
her a robot that could help her with all her housework.
I put my mind to making that promise a reality. Last year, I had a chance to
apply for a spot on my high school's all-girl robotics team, which would travel
internationally to participate in competitions.
of the 150 students who applied, only six were selected for the final round. I
was one of these students and, eventually, I was named captain of the team.
was so excited to compete on behalf of my country. But just before my team was
supposed to travel to Washington, D.C. for our competition, our visas were
denied. I did not know why and I twice travelled from my home in Herat to the
US Embassy in Kabul to appeal the decision.
failing both times, I decided that I needed to fight back -- and so I took to
the media. My team's story gained attention and eventually millions of people
around the world knew what was happening. In 2017, US President Donald Trump
decided to intervene. Our small robotics team was granted visas to enter the
United States just days before the start of the competition.
returned to Afghanistan with a silver medal for our achievement, and we were
proud to serve as a symbol of hope for Afghanistan after many long years of
war. We helped bring attention to the limits placed on girls and women in my
country, and we showed the world that, if given the chance, Afghan girls could do
one was prouder of my team's victory than my father. He was the one who
encouraged me to join the team in the first place, and he never lost hope that
we would win our battle. He always believed that his children would become
symbols of pride for our country.
one week after I returned to Afghanistan, while he was at our mosque for daily
prayers, ISIS took my father away from me. Some neighbors blamed me for my
father's death. They said that if I had not been on the robotics team, this might
not have happened to him.
first, I didn't think I could remain on the team because of this tragedy. But
my mother stood up to everyone. She said, "Fatemah must continue on this
route, even if only for her father, who is the reason she joined this team."
And she was right.
and young adults make up more than half of Afghanistan's population. The
ability of my country to change is in our hands. But convincing others of our
ability to do so -- and with technology -- is not going to be easy.
up in a war zone, few Afghan children have had the chance to turn their dreams
into reality. But we have a chance now -- the Digital Citizen Fund, which
provides digital literacy training to Afghan girls, is creating that
opportunity. This organization is how I learned computer programming and where
I first worked with robots, and it is the reason I believe in the power of
used to tell people, "Night will not always rule over Afghanistan. A new
day will come soon." My father reinforced that idea. And just as he never
stopped believing in me, I will never stop believing in a brighter future for
the next generation of girls in Afghanistan.
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