PESHAWAR: Another teenage girl from Swat has done the Pakistani nation proud as she was awarded the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award in the United States Saturday night.
Thirteen-year-old Hadiqa Bashir – whose forerunner was none other than Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai – is the youngest person to receive the award.
The third annual ‘Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards: An Evening to Celebrate Greatness’ took place at a hotel in Louisville city of Kentucky state.
The charitable event of celebration and recognition honours individuals around the world who have made significant contributions toward the attainment of peace, social justice or other positive actions pertaining to human or social capital.
“It is quite difficult for me to put into words what I feel about the unprecedented achievements of my daughter,” Iftikhar Hussain, a proud father of Hadiqa, told The Express Tribune.
Hadiqa was awarded for her active involvement in a drive against child marriages. “She made a significant contribution towards creating awareness among people regarding the evils of child marriages,” said her father.
He said Hadiqa visited houses where girls were married off at an early age. “She succeeded in discouraging the parents not only in the twin-towns of Mingora and Saidu Sharif, but also in the administrative, political and commercial centres of all seven districts of Malakand Division and half of Kohistan district.”
Hussain highlighted his daughter’s involvement in legislation against child marriages formulated by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. “She visited Peshawar to attend a meeting of parliamentarians during Mian Iftikhar Hussain’s tenure as the K-P information minister.”
Besides persuading the then information minister and other MPAs of the now-former ruling Awami National Party and Pakistan Peoples Party, she also advocated her point of view before the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl MPAs, added the proud father.
Regarding his reaction on Hadiqa receiving an international award, he said: “It is a unique juncture in my life. It is a great occasion as my daughter has become the first-ever teenager, Asian in general and Pakistani in particular, to have received the prestigious award.”
He hoped that his daughter would go a long way after being awarded for her untiring efforts. “Hadiqa is currently in the US and is likely to return home before Eidul Azha.”
Hussain’s family and friends have a lot to celebrate this Eid. Hadiqa was recently promoted to class 8 and is enrolled at the Iqra Academy in Saidu Sharif. Her father runs a private school and is also a socio-political activist.
The Muhammad Ali Centre was co-founded by legendry boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie in their hometown of Louisville. The international cultural centre promotes Ali’s six core principles – Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect and Spirituality – in ways that inspire personal and global greatness and provides programming and events around the focus areas of education, gender equity and global citizenship. Six young people are honoured with an award for each of Ali’s core principles.
Hadiqa was honoured for her Conviction in dedicating her young life to the advocacy of women’s and girl’s rights against forced child marriages in Pakistan.
Kyla LaPointe, 24, of Bathurst, New Brunswick was honoured for her Confidence as a leading advocate for child rights nationally and internationally.
Christopher Ategeka, 31, was honoured for Dedication. Born and raised in rural Uganda, he used his hard-won experience to start Rides for Lives to address health inequity in his home country.
Veronika Scott, 26, received the Giving award because she enables others to become givers. She has created a sustainable programme that addresses a root cause of homelessness – unemployment – by providing homeless women with jobs as seamstresses.
Sasha Fisher, 26, was honoured for Respect. She enables remote villages in east Africa to design and launch their own social impact projects.
Tanyella Evans, 28, was honoured for her extraordinary sense of Spirituality. Driven by the philosophy that education is a basic human right that is essential to prosperity and peace, she co-founded Library For All, an organisation that offers a digital library platform to make quality educational resources available to individuals across the developing world.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2015.