Special Campus Memo: Grinnell Prize Winner, Shafiq R. Khan

July 25, 2019

Dear Grinnellians:

It is my pleasure to announce that Shafiq R. Khan, founder and CEO of EMPOWER PEOPLE, has been selected as the 2019 Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize winner. Khan and EMPOWER PEOPLE have been instrumental in the fight to eradicate bride trafficking in North India and empower the independence, agency, and leadership of girls and women who have been affected by this issue.

The Grinnell Prize honors individuals who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and who show creativity, commitment, and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change. The prize carries an award of $100,000, the largest given by any U.S. college in recognition of social justice. Grinnell Prize Week events and the award are testament to the College's commitment to exploring ideas of purpose, responsibility, and justice on campus and beyond.

Shafiq R. Khan at EMPOWER PEOPLE protest

EMPOWER PEOPLE operates in many regions across North India, most notably in the Mewat district of Haryana. The organization works to support law enforcement agencies and families of trafficked brides by locating and rescuing missing girls and women. The organization then ensures follow-up through an intensive rehabilitation and tracking process that aims to ensure that the women and their ostracized children live safer, more equitable lives and do not fall prey to trafficking again.

Khan deeply understands that his position as a man places him in a unique position to challenge the patriarchal systems that undergird bride trafficking. In addition to empowering women to work to change these systems themselves, Khan conducts village conversations, educational programs, political advocacy, and the recruitment of male allies.

To date Khan and EMPOWER PEOPLE have rescued and rehabilitated approximately 4,250 trafficked women and girls, intervened in 88 cases of honor killings, and taken up 27,500 cases of domestic violence. Through the support of EMPOWER PEOPLE, approximately 3,200 girls are continuing their education and 12,650 children of trafficked women are attending school in 85 villages of 10 Indian states.

Khan earned his undergraduate degree in social work at the Indira Gandhi National Open University in 2010.

It is my hope that Grinnell Prize winners like Khan inspire and challenge us to find ways to use our own values, insights, relationships, and educational experiences as catalysts to become purpose-driven change-makers throughout the world. Other notable nominees this year included Hindolo Pokawa, founder and executive director of the Sierra Leone Foundation for a New Democracy and Antoinette Carroll, the founder, president, and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab.

Please join me in honoring Khan during the 2019 Grinnell Prize Award Ceremony, at noon Tuesday, Oct. 1, in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

For more information about collaborating with this year's winner during the 2019 Grinnell Prize Week (October 1-4) or about nominating someone for the 2020 Grinnell Prize, please contact Susan Sanning, associate dean and director of service and social innovation.

Raynard S. Kington

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