Negotiating the Third Space in Chitral Pakistan: Using Education to Advocate Women’s Rights

Rakshinda Shah, Kim Golombisky


The purpose of this paper is to record the educational experiences of college women in a part of the world where schools for girls and women are not a priority and can be dangerous. The literature on girl-child education in Pakistan is thin, and few have thought to study girls and women as students or credit their perspectives as legitimate knowledge. At the same time, Ismaili Muslims in the North of Chitral District value education for daughters, who today are almost universally sent to primary school. This essay interprets the oral histories of seven Ismaili women attending college in Chitral, Pakistan. We argue that the students’ accounts demonstrate indigenous third space feminism negotiating apparent contradictions and social invisibility in quiet activism that mimics yet changes the social order. The narrators view themselves as dutiful Muslim community daughters educated in Western-style colleges where they learned to be women’s rights advocates who wish to pay forward their knowledge. Three themes resulted from analyzing the seven oral histories: (1) Narrators experienced hardship to attend school. (2) Narrators are grateful for their families’ sacrifices. (3) Honoring their families and communities, the narrators plan to become educators and advocates to empower girls and women, and when they do return to their villages, the narrators


education, gender, girls, oral history, Pakistan, third space feminism, women

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