Rubina Feroze Bhatti

Born in Sargodha, the daughter of village school teachers, she grew up in a community of mainly landless farm laborers. Despite her limited access to resources and opportunities, she overcame every barrier courageously, emerged as a grassroots leader and proved that women can make their paths to leadership. Rubina is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in leadership studies from the University of San Diego in the United States. 

Rubina is a founding member of Taangh Wasaib Organization [TWO], a rights-based development group working for communal harmony and equality by addressing issues of violence against women, religious intolerance and sectarianism and discriminatory laws and policies against women and minorities. Rubina protects the rights of women who are targets of gender-based violence, trains women’s groups to report on violence against women, supports victims with counseling and legal aid, and works with media to bring attention to these issues. She has appeared on PTV, ARY TV, ATV, Dunya TV and GEO TV, as well as participated in interactive discussions on Public Radio FM 93 and FM 96. She also spoke on FOX News, San Diego 6, KPBS.

At the platform of COSAP, Rubina actively participated in a campaign for the restoration of a joint electorate system. She was the Pakistan People’s Party nominee for reserve seats for women in Punjab Assembly in 2002. Rubina has introduced human rights education programming in more than 200 public and private schools and written scripts for films and theater productions on human rights and peace issues. TWO’s production on the issue of domestic violence “Shackle Yet to Open,” was presented in the SAARC Film Festival 2011. During the devastating 2010 floods, TWO commenced the rehabilitation of flood victims in Khushab, Mianwali, Bhakkar, Layyah and Sargodha. Rubina has traveled in different parts of the world presenting and teaching on peace, justice, genderissues, human rights, capacity building, advocacy and many other topics.

Rubina’s journey of achievements has been long and challenging. She received her master’s in chemistry from BZU Multan and her master’s in development studies from Ireland, where she was awarded Student of the Year for her outstanding educational career. Her nomination for the Noble Peace Prize in 2005 as part of the 1,000 Women for Peace project is a hallmark for her life. In 2009 she was selected as a Woman PeaceMaker at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, where her life story was documented, and in 2010 was the recipient of the World Vision Peacemaking Award. She also won the 2011 Woman of Courage Award, along with former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, from the National Women's Political Caucus, an award given to women from diverse backgrounds who exemplify women's leadership and demonstrate courage by taking a stand to further civil rights and equality.

Her unprecedented services were also hailed by District Bar Association Sargodha, Hurmat-e-Qalam Society, Adal Foundation, Award Foundation Faisalabad and HECP Lahore. At the 21st Annual Award Ceremony held this year, Rubina’s services were lauded along with Ahmed Fraz, Makhdoom Javaid Hashmi, Abdussalam Somro. The ceremony was attended by Governor K.P, Barrister Masaood Kousar, S.M. Zafar, Justice (Rtd) Javaid Iqbal, Dr. MujahidKamran, Justice (Rtd.) Muneer A. Sheikh and Mehnaz Rafi, and other dignitaries. Rubina is the first Pakistani Christian woman awarded this medal. The other two Christian women who’ve received this award belong to Britain and Germany. Former Chief Justice of Pakistan A.R. Karnalis was the first non-Muslim Pakistani awarded with this honor and Bishop of Lahore Dr. Alixandar John Malik was the second.

As a minority woman, Rubina has faced many challenges, ranging from intimidation to threats of prosecution and false accusations. However, like others of her tribe, she accepts them as part and parcel of an activist’s job, and continues with her work by engaging volunteers and adopting interfaith dialogue and Sufi teachings as key strategies for managing these risks and conveying the message of tolerance and peace to people to reduce hatred in society. For Rubina, lasting peace cannot be achieved without integration with the majority culture. Religious minorities must merge their voices with the majority, and women must work in collaboration with men. Today, when the world thinks Pakistan is an unsafe place for minorities, Rubina is a positive image of Pakistan.

 

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