Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Women’s and Gender Studies

Major Professor

Kim Golombisky, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Michelle Hughes Miller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michelle Hughes Miller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Rubin, Ph.D.

Keywords

education, gender, oral history, Pakistan, third space feminism, third world feminism

Abstract

This feminist oral history project records, interprets, and analyzes the educational experiences of seven Ismaili college women in Chitral, Pakistan. Chitral is a part of the world where educating girls and women is not a priority. Yet in the scarce literature available one can observe an increase in the literacy rates, especially amongst the Ismaili Muslims in the North of Chitral District. This thesis introduces students' accounts of their personal educational journeys. I argue that the students' accounts exemplify third space feminism. They negotiate contradictions and social invisibility in their daily lives in quiet activism that shadows but changes the status quo of the society. Through their narratives the narrators see themselves as devout Muslim women who are receiving Western-style education through which they have learned to be women's rights advocates. The narrators now wish to pay forward their knowledge and help their families financially. Analysis of the oral histories revealed six themes: (1) distance from educational institutions, (2) sacrifices by the family, (3) support from family, (4) narrators as the first generation of women to attend school, (5) early memories of school including severe winters and corporal punishment, and (6) feminist touchstones. While honoring their families and communities, the narrators plan to become educators and advocates to empower girls and women in their own villages. In response to these oral histories, I recommend that the government of Pakistan, non-government organizations working in Pakistan, men and women, and teachers in schools work together to improve the educational journeys of future Chitrali women. Education for women needs to be introduced as a universal human right in Chitral so women, too, can get financial and psychosocial support from their families as well as communities to achieve their educational goals.

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