She set her mind on starting a movement to stop these practices. But as it gained momentum, it also spurred a backlash.
Nearly 1000 “honor” killings are reported in Pakistan each year, murders by a family member for behavior deemed “shameful,” such as a relationship outside of marriage. When Khalida Brohi lost a close friend to the practice, she resolved to campaign against it.
“We were challenging centuries-old customs in these communities. They stood up, saying we were spreading un-Islamic behavior,” she says. “We were standing against the core values of people, challenging their code of honor and hurting them deeply in the process.”
So Ms. Brohi did something outrageous. She apologized. She asked the communities for forgiveness — and then asked for her tribal leaders to support her in an effort to promote one of their prized traditions; i.e. embroidery.
She got them on board with the idea of establishing a center in the village where women could get together and stitch embroidery. While these women gathered to learn and work, in a rare moment without male supervision, Ms. Brohi and her team offered up information about their rights along with instruction in this ancient art.
By creating these embroidery centers, called the “Sughar Empowerment Society”, Ms. Brohi had more of an impact than she ever could have imagined. Today, she’s the founder and executive director of the “Sughar Empowerment Society”, dedicated towards providing tribal and rural women opportunities to grow their skills as well as learn leadership skills in an environment of growth and development.Brohi’s aim over the next 10 years is to change the lives of one million women in Pakistan.
Khalida Brohi has been named one of Newsweek magazine’s 25 under 25; one of the “100 Women Who Matter in Pakistan” by Newsweek; awarded “Woman of Impact Award” by the Women in the World Foundation, Women Excellence Award by national Government of Pakistan; the Young Champion Award from the University of Singapore; and the Unreasonable Institute Fellowship Award. Ms. Brohi has addressed numerous global forums, and received recognition from Oprah Winfrey, CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, and the former American President Bill Clinton.
Photo Courtesy: Forbes