On November 11th 2015, KARAMAH met with Ms. Shad Begum, a Pakistani advocate for women’s political and economic rights who is currently a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy. Ms. Aisha Rahman, KARAMAH’s executive director, and El Batoule Alaoui, KARAMAH’s managing director talked to Ms. Begum about KARAMAH’s work in advocating for gender equity and Muslim women’s rights and discussed opportunities for collaboration and learning. Ms. Begum expressed concern over misinterpretations of Islam and their repercussions on Muslim women, especially in Pakistan. She also remarked that educational programs like KARAMAH’s Law and Leadership program as very much needed to provide an enlightened understanding of Islam based on authentic sources rather than patriarchal ideologies and oppressive customs.
Ms. Shad Begum is the founding director of the Association for Behavior and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT), an organization working toward the economic and political empowerment of communities in underserved areas of Pakistan. Under her leadership,ABKT has mobilized scores of community-based organizations to engage with the government and has trained thousands of women in different skills and trades. Ms. Begum previously worked with the UN Human Settlements Program as a consultant for the “Building Gender Ladder Project,” as well as with UNDP’s Women Political Participation Program. She is an Ashoka Lifetime Fellow and the recipient of numerous awards, including the U.S. Department of State’s “International Woman of Courage Award” (2012) and the “Prize for Creativity in Rural Life,” awarded by the Women’s World Summit Foundation (2008). During her fellowship, Ms. Begum is laying the groundwork for the establishment of a Center for Women’s Democratic Development in northwest Pakistan.
We at KARAMAH are always delighted to meet with leaders from around the world to share in experiences and discuss potential venues for collaboration.