Rubina Feroze Bhatti is more than just an advocate for human rights; she is a pioneer for peacebuilding in Pakistan. In 2005, Rubina participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), studying the culture of community service and volunteerism in the United States. When Rubina returned to Pakistan, she was determined to adapt lessons learned from her exchange to her community. Rubina empowers Pakistanis to view social injustices as community issues that should be championed by all citizens, even those who are not personally affected. Through inclusive dialogues, Rubina shines a light on pressing issues, such as violence against women and the marginalization of minorities, and creates a welcoming environment for advocacy.
Immediately after her IVLP exchange, Rubina became the General Secretary of the Taangh Wasaib Organization (TWO), a human rights-based development group in Pakistan that aims to end violence against women, religious intolerance, and discriminatory laws. In her role, Rubina trains local women’s groups on how to report cases of violence, supports victims with counseling and legal aid, and works with the media to bring attention to these issues. In addition to her work with TWO, Rubina coordinates government efforts to reduce violence against women in the Sargodha District of Punjab. As a result of that work, local media outlets reported on ten cases of acid attacks against women and 24 cases of honor killings—tragedies that are often underreported by the Pakistani press.
After her exchange, Rubina wanted to enhance her expertise in volunteerism and community service. She returned to the United States to earn a doctorate in Leadership Studies from San Diego University. Rubina uses her exchange experience, academic background, and profession to ensure that the next generations of Pakistanis are equipped to promote peace. She dedicates time to empowering the alumni community through volunteerism and education. As an active member of the Lahore Chapter of the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network, Rubina has mentored young alumni and led a series of discussions and workshops. Outside of the alumni community, Rubina has organized three national conventions on volunteerism, bringing together youth to develop their leadership skills. She also introduced human rights educational programming to more than 200 public and private schools, and she writes scripts for films and theater productions on human rights and peace issues. She has traveled around the world, sharing her expertise on peace-building and human rights to inform a truly global movement.
Rubina’s contributions to peace-building have been recognized on the international stage. In 2005, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the 1,000 Women for Peace Project. In 2009, she was selected as a Woman Peace Maker by the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. She received the World Vision Peacemaking Award in 2010 for her work to bring a culturally-aware model of peace-building to human rights advocacy. In 2011, she received the National Women’s Political Caucus Women of Courage Award, which is given to women who exemplify leadership and courage in furthering civil rights and equality. Rubina was also the first Pakistani Christian woman to receive the Human Rights Award for her outstanding work by the Human Rights Society Pakistan.
Through her tireless work advocating for equal rights, working to end violence against women, and mentoring youth volunteers, Rubina has given a voice to the voiceless and created a platform for Pakistanis to make a lasting difference in their communities. Rubina joins an expansive network of exchange alumni seeking to build a more inclusive and tolerant world, one community at a time.
To hear from Rubina on how her exchange experience transformed her life’s work, please view this video (Urdu language) produced by the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan.
Each month, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) Alumni Affairs Division, which supports alumni as they build on their exchange experiences, recognizes one outstanding alumnus or alumna. Rubina Feroze Bhatti is this month’s outstanding alumna, and her work will be recognized throughout February on the International Exchange Alumni website, ECA’s official website which serves more than one million Department-sponsored exchange alumni worldwide.