Khalida Brohi, named one of Forbes “30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs in Asia,” has an engrossing, important story to tell about her childhood in Pakistan. Her mother was 9 years old when she married Brohi’s father, who was 13, in an “exchange marriage.” Brohi, the oldest daughter of her parents’ eight children, was born in a tribal area of the country when her mother was 14. Born severely malnourished, she wasn’t expected to survive. Yet survive she did, and despite living in poverty and moving between rural areas, slums, towns and cities over the years, she describes her childhood as “joyous” in I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan.
That happiness was forever tarnished, however, in 1999. That year, Brohi’s uncle and two others strangled her 14-year old cousin, Khadija, in an “honor killing,” because Khadija ran away with her boyfriend, leaving behind the man she had been promised to as a young girl.
“The pain shoved me into a new reality,” Brohi writes. Luckily, her own parents had very different ideas than the rest of their family, and they refused to promise Brohi to anyone, in defiance of tribal custom. Her father explained that instead, his daughter’s job was to honor her family with good grades and an education. Brohi did just that, becoming a vocal advocate against honor killings, working to empower Pakistani women and to redefine the tribal definition of honor. That journey began when she was just 16 and has taken her around the world, despite death threats and even an office bombing.
She founded a nonprofit called Sughar Foundation (sughar means “skilled and confident woman” in Urdu), which focuses on the empowerment of women in rural Pakistan. Its goal is to put an end to exchange marriages, child marriages and honor killings while offering job training to women in traditional embroidery. The organization teaches women about their equal status and rights, and helps them launch their own businesses.
Writing in compelling, page-turning prose, Brohi shares a deeply felt, intimate portrait of what it means to be a global activist. There’s even a love story―one with a happy ending. Don’t miss I Should Have Honor, which deserves a legion of caring, activist readers.