The Power of a Woman! -Khalida Brohi, Social Entrepreneur leading the Sughar Program in Pakistan

Khalida Brohi is a youth activist and social entrepreneur leading the Sughar Program in Pakistan that aims at ending the custom of honor killing by promoting beautiful traditions and by providing socio-economic empowerment to tribal women. At the age of 22, Khalida is a dedicated entrepreneur and winner of the Young Champion Award by University of Singapore, an Unreasonable Institute Fellow and the winner of the fellowship award by YouthActionNet®.

She draws her inspiration from two very amazing people who she says are the best changemakers of all times; her parents. “In a society where I live, life for a girl is a continued struggle, especially for a girl who chooses to do something “different” - she has to fight the hardest and often has to pay a heavy price. Most of my struggles were done by my parents who fought against societal constraints and brought me to where I am today.”  

Her mother belongs to a very small village of Balochistan in Pakistan and was married at a very young age. That time of her life when she could be playing with her dolls was spent in running around a big house taking care of chores. She had never been to school but made sure her six daughters got proper education. Making sure that not even the slightest shadow of what she faced in her life should fall upon her daughters.

Her father is the son of a small farmer and is a visionary. Right from his childhood, he began to sketch his life in a new design even when those shapes didn’t seem reasonable at that time; but he believed that one day things would be different. He got married while he was still a school student, at the insistence of his family, but he did not give up on his dreams and made his new family a part of them. One day when he returned from school and brought books for his wife too and started to teach her as well.  

She feels that the three most important qualities that make a changemaker successful are Passion, Belief and Persistence. “Being passionate towards the issue and the mission is the first step in becoming a changemaker; it is when you really FEEL the burning need of what you want to do and what you have to achieve at a certain time. To be passionate is when you are exactly feeling the pain that others feel and you are desperate to try your hardest for helping out in any way that you can.

“Belief comes second when you know that you will achieve your target because you have come to realize that there is nothing in this world that cannot be achieved. To believe is when you can close your eyes and see the results right there, in front of you and your soul gets ready to achieve those results because every possibility has grown in size and every barrier have shrunk to a droplet.  

“Persistence is the fact that to achieve your goals, you HAVE TO keep moving, keep trying and struggling and doing the best that you can, not forgetting once you have chosen where you want to go everything around you also directs itself towards making sure you get there.”

As far as her road to success is concerned, she says that she hasn’t consciously used any tricks or strategies but there are certain fundamental ideas that she relies on:

Using setbacks to grow and learn: Standing up against an issue like honor killing tends to be very challenging at times, this crime being part of the cultural code of honor is also provided the respect among other traditions in most of the tribal areas of Pakistan. Beginning at the age of 16, I never realized that there was ever anything called “risk” or “opposition”. I learnt about these things in early 2008 when after a year of successful campaigning against honor killings, the tribal leaders in my community stood up against me and their fierce opposition led us to halt our initiatives there and forced me to leave my hometown and flee to Karachi.

That is the time my team and I experienced failure in its toughest form, but that failure also became the founding structure of our knowledge - setbacks are to be expected in our work, but we always have to be ready to use those setbacks to stand up again.

Within six months of that incident, Sughar came into shape and this time we went back to the tribal communities with new strategies to promote beautiful traditions to end honor killing. Success was just waiting for us there!

People are the best resource: Every person has the ability to offer, share and respect. I have always put my trust in people and in return got the best support that they could offer. An enterprise needs various kinds of resources, but the main resource we have are the people who never stop giving their time and energy once you have conveyed to them how the achievement of these goals will make their lives, and of those around those around them, better.  

She learns from what she sees around her, like kids who fight but make up in 15 minutes and are best friends again! “Forgive and forget and start new as soon as you want to have fun!”

One thing she would you have done differently is to have spent quality time with family and friends. “My friends often tell me that there is a big slice of your life that has vanished without me experiencing any of it. I have mostly been away when mom was serving hot milk each night to my siblings before tucking them away in bed or when all of them sat watching movies or even talking over tea in the afternoons.”

Khalida has an ability to see the miracle in everything - to see the possibility that lies within the roaring of the rain and the waves of the sea. This very ability has led her to see her opposition’s point of view as well. Every time a setback occurs, she evaluates the positive that could be obtained from the experience and has never been disappointed. But one thing she wished she could do is to find a way to make people understand that every human being deserves the very same as you.

When asked what advice she would have now for her former 15-year old self, she replies, “I had always been a person with heaps of questions. I spent most of my time thinking. I would like to advice my former 15 year old self to take it easy and let things be unknown, because that way we can enjoy the beauty of the stars.”

She has high hopes for the future woman. “Most of the issues that we are fighting about today will be talk of the past in 50 years and women would be involved in activities that aim towards searching for better options to make this society an even more wonderful place to live!

“The future woman is Sughar (skilled and confident) who knows where she is stepping to and what she wants from life. She is aware that in the past there have been women fighting for the rights that she is enjoying currently and therefore she would be grateful and willing to contribute to the betterment of society.”