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Khalida Brohi Gives Pakistani Women The Tools to Lead

Her non-profit teaches women business strategies to become confident and independent 'sughars.'

​Khalida Brohi isn't afraid to risk her life for her activism. On the contrary: "Not doing this work would kill me. Doing this work would keep me alive," she said at the 2013 Women in the World Summit, where she was part of a panel called "The New Malalas"—Pakistani women whose fearless activism "can only be stopped with a bullet."

After losing a friend to an honor killing in her Pakistani village, 16-year-old Brohi founded Sughar Empowerment Society, a non-profit that equips rural Pakistani women with the skills and resources necessary  for economic and personal growth. ("Sughar" translates as "skilled and confident woman"—the very role Brohi herself embodies.) The organization educates women from 23 villages in a six-month class where they learn how to use their embroidery skills to create fashionable products and sustain a small company. Graduates also receive small loans to help kickstart their ventures.

Brohi's work with Sughar earned her a spot on Forbes 30 under 30 list of social entrepreneurs, and she is also the subject of a forthcoming documentary by filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy.

At last fall's Clinton Global Initiative, Brohi gave the audience an inkling of the heritage and family support that sustains her work when she quoted her father's empowering advice: "My dear," he told a young Brohi, "don't cry, strategize."

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