Daughter of a village school teacher from Sargodha, Rubina Feroze Bhatti was born and grew up in a community of mainly landless farm labourers. Despite her limited access to resources and opportunities, she overcame
Rubina Feroze Bhatti
Daughter of a village school teacher from Sargodha, Rubina Feroze Bhatti was born and grew up in a community of mainly landless farm labourers. Despite her limited access to resources and opportunities, she overcame every barrier courageously and emerged as a grassroots leader and proved that women can make their ways to leadership.
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 counselling and legal aid, and works with media to bring attention to these issues.
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 theatre 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 travelled in different parts of the world presenting and teaching on peace, justice, gender issues, 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 Peace Maker 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 Peace making Award. She also won the 2011 Woman of Courage Award, along with former Speaker of the US 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.
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.