13-Year-Old Swat Girl Wins Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award
By Fazal Khaliq
Kentucky: Another young girl from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Swat district – home of child activist Malala Yousufzai – has earned international recognition by being awarded the Third Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for dedicating her life to ending the practice of child marriages in Pakistan.
Thirteen-year-old Hadiqa Bashir is a women's rights activist who has successfully stopped several child marriages in her area. She received the award from Dr Jennifer Clinton, President of Global Ties USA.
Hadiqa has become the youngest recipient of this award.
The award ceremony, hosted by four-time Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans, took place at the Marriot Louisville to recognize people from around the world who have made significant contributions to peace, social justice, human rights, and social capital.
Six individuals 30 years or younger were presented with an award that mirror boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s six core principles: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality. The Muhammad Ali Center was co-founded by Ali and his wife Lonnie.
Speaking on the occasion Hadiqa Bashir said she was honored to receive the award. “The award reaffirms my conviction that with truth, courage and determination as our weapons, my country, Pakistan will be liberated from every type of injustice and violence. I did not make the journey here alone. Numerous people have supported me along the way,” she said.
Bashir added that she was blessed with an amazing and supportive family, especially her uncle Erfaan Hussein Babak who is the co-founder of the group 'Girls United for Human Rights'. He is also founder of the group's parent organization, “The Awakening”.
Babak also serves as the head teacher of a private school in Saidu Sharif town of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province's Swat district .
Hadiqa Bashir's family members said they were happy that their daughter received the award for her noble cause.
“She is not only my daughter but the daughter of entire Pakistan. The award will give her high courage. She will work more actively against early and forced marriages, and we will support her in her mission,” said Sajda Ifthikar, who is Hadiqa's mother.
Hadiqa’s father, Ifthikhar Hussain, said that he was proud that his daughter was performing well in her studies, as well as in her mission against child marriages. He said that Hadiqa used to visit every house in the district to raise awareness and stop the harmful practice of child marriages. - Dawn