Editorial | Republic Underground
March 20, 2021
This Women’s Month, Republic Underground news has launched discussions with women of powerful backgrounds. Today, Republic Underground news discussed activism against forced child marriages with Pakistani activist Hadiqa Bashir.
Bashir explained that child marriage is traditional in Pakistan.
“It is tradition to get married here at age 11 or 12,” said Bashir. She then recalled the experiences of a friend of hers who was forced to marry as a young girl. The girls were attending a party when they noticed that their friend was “really pale and down,” Bashir recalled. When they pressed the girl on what had happened to her, she told them the truth.
“She told us her husband beat her with an iron wire. I was really in shock at that time, and my friend’s face haunted me for months,” said Bashir.
She noted that she wanted to do something for this friend, but could not. Then, a marriage proposal came for her around her own 11th birthday. She was deeply troubled by this proposal, despite the fact that it would have benefited her family, and one of her relations told her
“I was crying, I said, no I don’t want to get married at this age. I have some dreams. I want to continue my studies. So, one of my uncles told me about child marriage laws and human rights. So, I told my family, that if they tried to get me married at this young age, I would fight against them in the court of law,” said Bashir.
When Bashir confronted her family with the prospect of a lawsuit, her father, an educated man, convinced the family not to pursue any marriage proposals for her at that young age. She recalls remembering how she wondered after she observed the attitude of an educated family not considering a child marriage to be unacceptable, about the child human rights risk to uneducated families of Pakistan.
“I started a campaign,” she then remembered, how she went from door to door in her local Pakistan and spoke with families about the negative impact of forced child marriages.
On March 11, Republic Underground news discussed the power of women’s rights and education with Ayan Aliyeva. Aliyeva is an Azerbaijani educator and a businesswoman. She has mass experience across the world, in the western world and the Middle East.
“I love, in general, sharing about success. Not only mine,” said Aliyeva, as she dove into explaining her background.
“I am an entrepreneur and an educator in the field of education. So, all businesses I build around the world are connected and related to education.”
Dual discussion: How does women’s education combat risks to women and girl’s rights?
Bashir noted above that she had confronted her family with child marriage laws and human rights, once she was educated about them. Likewise, it was for the sake of her education that she was fundamentally against being forced to marry at the traditional age of 11-12 years. She noted above that her father convinced her family not to pursue the proposed marriage because he was an educated man and knew that the child protection laws existed.
In the discussion on women’s education with Ayan Aliyeva, the Azerbaijani educator’s comments offered a key component of the fundamental power education has for human rights. She mentioned that, if one has an entrepreneurial mind, one has the power to start any business.
Reducing poverty level, and spreading education and literacy among impoverished demographics, thereby empowering a business-centric education is at the core concept of Aliyeva’s discussion. From her analysis of women’s empowerment through education, one can see a relevance to the community experience of Bashir’s Pakistan. If Bashir’s social circle was better educated with a business-centric education, would they have opted for the traditional matchmaking that contributes to the problem of forced child marriage in Pakistan?
“If you have an entrepreneurial mind, you can really develop any business. Because there is no one formula of success, but there is one formula for how business works. Once you understand how business works, you can be in real estate, education, auto-selling business, and et cetera,” said Aliyeva.
In Bashir’s recollection of her childhood and rise to activism, she noted that traditional families made matches for 11-12-year-old girls. Marriage proposals are driven by a need for security. In Bashir’s family’s case, her first marriage proposal came from a well-off taxi driver, and she noted that the proposal was “really good.”
But education, Aliyeva points out, in how to have an entrepreneurial mind, and how business works turns the key to running any business. One can see from this viewpoint that with the empowerment a well-placed education brings, a family would not be pressed to accept proposals for traditional security. Rather, education replaces the security that traditions sought after with viable opportunity that empowers the basic human rights of young girls.
Share your thoughts. What are some ways to guide entrepreneurial education in regions affected by undereducation perpetuated social problems? How can increase in entrepreneurial-focused education address social issues such as forced child marriage?