March 31, 2019
By: Anna Bryan
Global Hope 365 had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Quratulain Baktheari to discuss her life’s work as an activist, educator and women’s rights pioneer. We talked about the mindset of overcoming obstacles, creating models for women’s empowerment, and the phenomenon of motherhood as a powerful force to create institutional change.
Dr. Quratulain, who has been working for the development of rural communities and girls’ education in Baluchistan has created with the help of the government of Baltistan, 2,200 schools and trained more than 300 midwives. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 in recognition of her pioneering work in women’s empowerment. Today Dr. Quratulain is the founder of the Institute for Development Studies and Practices (IDSP) in Balochistan. The courses taught at IDSP empower women to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to promote human rights, political participation, gender equality, and global citizenship–all of which will help them to improve safety and development in Pakistan. IDSP has now expanded to include a college campus. The University of Community Development is an “innovative and creative learning space that has been evolved to countering the gaps such as systematic exclusion, conceptual irrelevance, pedagogical and livelihood deficiency in the formal educational systems.”
Dr. Quratulain has transcended her biography. From her formative experiences as a child in a refugee camp in Karachi, Dr. Quratulain has learned how to remove obstacles in her path. “Women are stories, not statistics,” says Dr. Quratulain. Personal is political. Dr. Quratulain spent twelve years in a refugee camp, “Being a refugee was my school. Those 12 years completed me. I was raised to remove barriers, to remove obstacles. It was not about victimization, it was about opportunity.”
The idea of mindset and opportunity described so eloquently by Dr. Quratulain is important to the mission of Global Hope 365. Victims of Child Marriage and Human Trafficking can transcend their victimhood and “emerge beautifully” as Dr. Quratulain says about her own childhood.
Dr. Quratulain describes the experience of being a woman. “For a woman, personal and professional are one. We don’t have two faces.” This declaration is evident in Dr. Quratulain’s own life. A woman with emotion does not hang it at the door. We discuss the inherent nature of women to nurture other women but also to nurture boys and men to create thriving societies. “When I saw that I am being obstructed from education. I started using my inner empowerment from childhood. I dedicated myself to women and children but also to boys and men.” This resonates with Global Hope 365’s founder, Rima Nashashibi. Rima speaks of her motivation to start a nonprofit dedicated to empowering women and girls. Rima says, “I couldn’t sit on the sidelines and not do anything. That was not an option. It is inherent in our genes that we have to take care of the whole village for the society to thrive.”
Emotion and fire are fundamental ingredients for creating institutional change. Both are the fuel of Global Hope 365. Dr. Quratulain also speaks of another key ingredient. Women need inspiration from women like them. Dr. Quratulain describes her observations of her own school. At first, the women were escorted to school by male family members. Within three years, women were traveling to school independently. All the members of the society, men and women, had to observe the independence of women to normalize the behavior. Rima notes the inclusivity of Global Hope 365 as the supporters and donors of Global Hope 365 are men and women. “We need men and women to contribute to protecting the sovereignty of women. Our first, largest and most consistent donor is a man who would like to provide a safer environment for his daughter. In the US, we need to take care of our own young women by ending Child Marriage and Human Trafficking. “
Global Hope 365 greatly admires the work of Dr. Quratulain as a woman empowering many women from a place of true feminine power. Personal is political, we all agree. Rima is committed to overcoming all obstacles to end child marriage in the United States. Dr. Quratulain’s work has made a significant impact in educating women in Pakistan and preventing child marriage. Pakistan has recently initiated legislative action to end child marriage. Although there is not direct causation, we can’t help but think Dr. Quratulain efforts for women’s empowerment have made a profound impact.