Entrepreneurs Of Pakistan

Khalida Brohi-Activist for Women’s Rights and a Social Entrepreneur

Khalida Brohi

Khalida Brohi is a Pakistani activist for women’s rights and a social entrepreneur. She grew up in a small village in the province of Balochistan, Pakistan, and became the first girl in her village to go to school. Brohi left school at 16 to pursue justice for her cousin and all women and girls who become victims of honor killings. She began her activism by writing poetry about the experience and reading it at any event that would allow her to speak.

In 2008, Brohi joined WAKE UP, an international organization committed to ending domestic violence, and organized WAKE UP rallies using Facebook to pressure the national government of Pakistan to close the loopholes in the law that allow honor killings and domestic abuse. Her Facebook campaign garnered thousands of international followers and led to numerous demonstrations, raising awareness about the issue of honor killings both at home and abroad.

Brohi realized that the awareness she was creating in Karachi and globally was not reaching the women and communities who were suffering from domestic violence and the custom of honor killings. In response, she launched the Youth and Gender Development Program (YGDP), which expanded into skills-training programs for both women and men that taught computer and cottage industry manufacturing skills while educating participants about women’s rights under the law and in Islam. The success of the program inspired Brohi to create the Sughar Empowerment Society, which helps women in Pakistan learn skills related to “economic and personal growth.”

Sughar 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 has been threatened with violence for her work, including being shot at and bombed.

One of the Sughar’s initiatives was to create a tribal fashion brand, called Nomads, featuring products made by the Sughar women. Nomads debuted with an internationally acclaimed fashion show in 2012. In 2015, Brohi married David Barron, an American convert to Islam, in a rare love marriage because of their different cultural and social backgrounds. Together the couple founded The Chai Spot in Sedona, Arizona, a peace-building social enterprise focused on promoting Pakistani arts and hospitality, while at the same time providing uplifting opportunities for women and youth in Pakistan. In 2018, Khalida and David opened their second Chai Spot in Manhattan.