eLIT founder Safia Rizvi defied expectations when she moved to the U.S., earned a Ph.D., and broke off an arranged marriage. Now she’s helping other women overcome barriers.

BY SUSAN FRITH

It must have been a bad translation that Safia Rizvi WG’03 came across, as a girl growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, but the book has stuck in her mind all these years later.

“It somehow translated to say that in Paris, the streets are made of glass,” Rizvi recalls, amusement flickering over her dark eyes.
“I imagined the shiny glass city streets, and the cars are rolling along on the glass. So I told my siblings I was going to go to Paris one day.” They laughed at her travel fantasy. “From that moment onwards, my siblings had a teasing name for me: Queen of Paris.”

For Rizvi, raised in a patriarchal Muslim household, a much smaller perimeter had been drawn: She would come home from school and cook dinner. She would let her parents and her two brothers make decisions on her behalf. And she would marry someone her family picked out. End of story.

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©2005 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 10/28/05

FEATURE:
The Power of Her Choices
By Susan Frith

Photography by Bill Cramer

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