Khalida Brohi

  • Speaker
  • 2018 Fall

Brohi was the first girl in her village, located in the province of Balochistan, to go to school. She attended school in Karachi. In 2004, when Brohi was 16, a close friend became a victim of an honor killing. Her friend was killed because she wanted to marry a person she loved instead of someone her family chose. Brohi began to protest honor killings while she was in Karachi, but this only angered people and caused the tribal leaders to oppose her. She fled Karachi in 2008.

Brohi recalls that in response, her father told her, "don't cry, strategize." Instead of openly protesting, she created the Sughar Empowerment Society, which is a non-profit organization which helps women in Pakistan learn skills related to "economic and personal growth." Sughar means "skilled, confident woman" in Urdu. The Sughar Empowerment Society provides women in the villages of Pakistan with income from their work, and the ability to "challenge negative cultural beliefs with education and information about women's rights." The group allows Brohi to change cultural perceptions from within, instead of openly protesting. By 2013, there were 23 centers, serving 800 women who learn about "gender equality, preventing domestic violence, girls' education and women's rights," all while they are creating work to be sold. The type of work the women create is traditional embroidery which is then sold to the fashion industry. Brohi would like to include a million women in Sughar within the next ten years, she said in 2013.

Her work with Sughar was noticed by Forbes, where she was recognized as part of Forbes 30 under 30 in 2014. In 2014, she became part of the second cohort of fellows with the MIT Media Lab, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brohi was also the subject of a documentary by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Seeds of Change, which was set to release in 2014. On October 2014, she gave a TED talk at TEDGlobal 2014 where she discusses her activism against honor killings.