Ayesha Khan

Ayesha Khan
Collective for Social Science Research

Master of Arts
Candidate, PhD by Published Works, Institute of Development Studies

About

70
Publications
40,525
Reads
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327
Citations
Introduction
Ayesha Khan works with the Collective for Social Science Research in Karachi, Pakistan. She is author of The Women's Movement in Pakistan: Activism, Islam and Democracy (2018). Her current research focusses on the intersection between women's activism, increased political participation and gender equality outcomes. She uses mainly qualitative methodologies or mixed methods during her research. She is currently pursuing a PhD by Published Works at the Institute of Development Studies in the UK.
Additional affiliations
January 2019 - present
Institute of Business Administration Karachi
Position
  • Visiting Faculty (Part-time)
Description
  • I teach a senior seminar called 'Women's Issues and Activism in Pakistan'.
October 2016 - December 2016
University of Oxford
Position
  • Visiting Scholar
January 2002 - present
Collective for Social Science Research
Position
  • Managing Director
Education
January 2021 - January 2022
Institute of Development Studies
Field of study
  • Development Studies
September 1988 - June 1989
SOAS, University of London
Field of study
  • Area Studies of South Asia
September 1983 - June 1988
Yale University
Field of study
  • Philosophy

Publications

Publications (70)
Article
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This paper sets itself certain specific tasks: a) we attempt to define pro-poor and social change; b) the activities of non-profit organizations (NPOs) are classified and discussed in terms of these definitions, with a view to understanding how their work has a vertical impact, both to the state and policy level and at the grassroots community leve...
Article
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There has been an ideological tug-of-war over women's place in Afghan society from the early years of the twentieth century between the modernizing tendencies of its urban-based elite and the forces of conservatism represented by the Islamic ulema (religious leaders). Following the US-led invasion and the international donor community's subsequent...
Article
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This is a qualitative research study based on interviews with Lady Health Workers in peri-urban and rural sites in Pakistan. The objective was to explore the empowerment outcomes for these women, who serve on the front-line of the government's primary health care system by delivering services door-to-door within their communities. It found the empo...
Article
This article draws on qualitative research on five different gendered contentions in Pakistan: a feminist mobilisation, a protest against child sexual abuse, a workers’ mobilisation for greater employment benefits, an ethno-religious minority community’s demand for protection from sectarian attacks, and an ethno-nationalist mobilisation for post-co...
Article
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Pakistan’s National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) was an outcome of the women’s movement struggle for gender equality and continues to support their demands for gender justice. It is a compelling case study of sandwich strategy initiative in which pro-reform actors within government cultivated synergy with citizen stakeholders to drive i...
Technical Report
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Technical Report
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This report is a fact-finding based on interviews and media tracking during the first months of the pandemic in Pakistan. Our findings show that with the onset of the pandemic, the availability of reproductive health services, including contraception, safe abortion services and obstetric services in the province of Sindh declined. The federal and p...
Article
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Women in Pakistan operate within highly patriarchal contexts that promote their exclusion from public spaces; but those working in politics, the most public of spaces, defy these prevailing gender norms. This article examines women's experience of sexual harassment in the political 'workspace'. It presents data from interviews, press and television...
Technical Report
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This background paper is a review of changing civic spaces in Pakistan during the brief period from July 2018, when national elections brought a new government to power, until the first lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020. It will provide the context for interpreting events since the start of the pandemic, to show how civic s...
Article
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Recognizing constraints Pakistani women legislators face despite their entry into politics on a 17 per cent quota in national and provincial assemblies, it is time to rethink how quotas can lead to their political mainstreaming. This article explores quota legislators' views on their own accountability and empowerment based on the first online surv...
Article
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The Beijing +25 Asia and Pacific Civil Society Forum held recently in Bangkok brought together over 300 activists representing 250 organizations and networks for a three-day convening. Participants assessed progress since 1995 and crafted a statement of demands to place before the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on the Beijing+25 Review that fo...
Article
The women's movement in Pakistan strategically used the courts to fight for rights-based empowerment over the last 40 years. Its demand to hold the state and judiciary accountable for delivering on its constitutional promise of fundamental rights has led to landmark public interest litigation jurisprudence. This paper presents for the first time th...
Article
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This article explains how activists in Pakistan's women's movement strategically used the courts to fight for their rights since the 1980s, and describes the wide expanse of their concerns.
Article
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This paper is an analysis of findings from a study of women’s political voice in Pakistan under the A4EA Research Programme. It is based on mixed methods, drawing together archival and secondary sources, qualitative interviews with activists, politicians and key informants, and the findings of an online survey with women parliamentarians. Section 1...
Article
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In this issue we are calling for a new interpretive framework that recognises the multiple genealogies that have contributed to binary constructs of the Western/secular versus the authentic/religious; takes into account the different power positionalities of those engaging in global and national struggles temporally and spatially; challenges the st...
Article
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This article challenges the binary framework within which women in Pakistan have been viewed, by political actors, the state, and more broadly as well, as either 'secular/feminist/godless/Westernised' or 'authentic/ Islamic/traditional'. It begins by contextualising the genealogy of this binary in Pakistan's colonial and political history, which ha...
Article
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This article challenges the binary framework within which women in Pakistan have been viewed, by political actors, the state, and more broadly as well, as either ‘secular/feminist/godless/westernized’ or ‘authentic/Islamic/traditional’. It begins by contextualizing the geneology of this binary in Pakistan’s colonial and political history, which has...
Article
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Hina Jilani is one of Pakistan’s most influential human rights activists and a leader of Women’s Action Forum, the group that began the modern women’s movement in the country. She co-founded the first women’s law firm and legal aid organisation, AGHS, and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. At the international level she has held numerous posi...
Article
Full-text available
In this issue we are calling for a new interpretive framework that recognises the multiple genealogies that have contributed to binary constructs of the Western/secular versus the authentic/religious; takes into account the different power positionalities of those engaging in global and national struggles temporally and spatially; challenges the st...
Article
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This blog provides an overview of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf track record on women's rights policy-making, arguing that it does not bode well for what is to come with the new government.
Article
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The untimely death of human rights defender Asma Jahangir has dealt a body blow to the Pakistani women’s movement and the peoples’ struggle for political empowerment.
Article
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This blog discusses the launch event of the research on increasing women's political voice. The event brought together leading women activists and civil society stakeholders to discuss how to improve women's political participation.
Article
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Why are foreign donors so enthusiastic about alternative dispute mechanisms when they deliver second class justice for women?
Article
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This a review of Nafisa Shah's book Honor Unmasked. Shah provides a framework to understand how this ritual killing of men and women functions in modern society Nafisa Shah, women's rights activist, artist, anthropologist and a member of the National Assembly, was the first journalist to cover honour killings in-depth. Her story broke in Newsline,...
Article
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Bonded labour constitutes one of the gravest violations of individual human rights. It is perceived — both at the popular level, as well as among legislators and the judiciary — as akin to slavery. Yet, bonded labour often comes disguised in a web of legitimate ‘voluntary’ economic transactions mediated through social control. Haris Gazdar and Ayes...
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The press recently reported that Pakistan's Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice has approved amendments in the country’s anti-rape laws. If they are passed, DNA pro ling will be admitted as crucial evidence during investigation into rape cases. Also it was proposed that medical examination in cases of rape take place only in government-run...
Technical Report
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Pakistan has the second highest out of school population in the world and only 42% of girls in Pakistan have completed primary school or above, as compared to 60% boys (Pakistan Bureau of Statistics 2013). The Citizens Foundation (TCF) is one of the largest non-profit organizations providing formal education to the less privileged in the country. T...
Article
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This article is about the struggle to maintain the integrity of the most progressive laws for women passed during Pakistan's early years, which have consistently been questioned by voices from the religious right for not upholding the principles of Islam. This has forced the women's movement to focus (especially during the 1980s and 1990s) more on...
Technical Report
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This paper presents the findings of a small survey of adolescent girls in two districts of Sindh which assessed their knowledge of reproductive health matters.
Article
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Gareth Williams, in his new book Paralysed with Fear: The Story of Polio, offers an insightful history ofthis debilitating and frightening disease, which was only tamed by the development of an effectivevaccine in the 1950s. This is a review of his book, which points to important lessons for us to learn in our efforts to combat polio today.
Article
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This paper highlights the findings pertaining to profiles of abortion seekers, reasons for induced abortions and methods used, and treatment for post-abortion complications (PACs). This paper is a review of community studies on induced abortion in Pakistan between 1969 and 2010, including the Induced Abortion Survey (IAS) 2010, in which the author...
Technical Report
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This is part of a series of reports on Pakistan's child protection data, programs and policies in its individual provinces, commissioned by UNICEF.
Technical Report
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This is a mapping and assessment of child protection related policies, programs and data for Sindh, Pakistan
Technical Report
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The report is a mapping and assessment of laws, policies, and programs for child protection in the province of Punjab, Pakistan.
Data
This is a collection of data pertaining to child protection in the province of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, which forms parts of a national study commissioned by Unicef.
Chapter
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There have been unprecedented gains as well as profound losses for Pakistani women over the last decade. This chapter will contextualize women's rights and development within the framework of an emerging democracy for the purpose of assessing the country's progress towards attaining the goals of CEDAW over the last five years.
Article
There is considerable debate about the extent to which gender equality and womens' rights are universal values. This debate has been particularly heated in Afghanistan where the violation of women's rights by the Taliban regime was one justification used by the US and its allies for their invasion of the country. There is, however, very little rese...
Article
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This article is a response to the court verdict on the gang-rape of Mukhtara Mai, who defied tradition by pursuing her attackers through recourse to a hostile criminal justice system in Pakistan.
Preprint
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Draft only, comments welcome] This paper is an introduction of the work of the Social Science Research Collective in Karachi, a field-based research organization, to a community in North America engaged with theoretical concerns in the field of International Relations. The purpose is to share findings pertaining to the life experiences of people wi...
Article
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Pakistan’s Lady Health Workers’ programme has trained over 1,00,000 women to provide community health services in rural areas. Not only has the programme revitalised the primary health care system, it has also helped overcome the gendered division of public and private space that is a major obstacle to women’s access to basic services, including ed...
Article
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This paper was written as part of the research consortium Pathways to Women's Empowerment, administered through IDS Sussex and funded by DFID. It is a review of research on women's paid work and impact on empowerment-related outcomes for women in Pakistan. It was republished in F. Azim and M. Sultan, eds. (2010) Mapping Women's Empowerment. Dhaka:...
Chapter
Pakistan is a country about which the world knows relatively little, but about which many assumptions have been made. Since its creation in 1947, the West has perceived it more often than not as a moderate Muslim state. The government has variously permitted increasing or decreasing influence of the religious right in its affairs. During the 1980s...
Working Paper
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Article
Findings on the qualitative data of Afghan and Karachi women's attitudes toward war and perceptions of women's role in attaining peace. These oral histories from women survivors of Afghan civil war and conflict in Karachi, Pakistan reveal both Afghan and Karachi women view political leaders as responsible for war and lacking in certain moral and et...
Article
Afghan women and children make up the majority of refugees who fled to Iran and Pakistan after 1979. This paper analyzes the experience of Afghan women refugees in Pakistan in terms of the disintegration of family, community, and state support structures due to the ongoing Privileging the voices and experiences of refugee women, the resear whic...
Article
This article was also reprinted in Ammu Joseph and Kalpana Sharma Terror / Counter Terror: Women Speak Out (Delhi 2003), pp. 162-8. It is the story of an Afghan woman, Hafeeza, who fled the Taliban and came to a refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan. It is an eloquent and passionate description, in her words, of the trauma of displacement caused by wa...
Article
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The feminist movement in Pakistan has a strong core of political and social activism. Feminist research, in turn, must confront the tension between advocacy and scholarship goals during the research process. This discussion explores this tension and related issues raised during a feminist research project based on the study of women affected by vio...
Technical Report
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This paper reviews a research on adolescent and reproductive health issues in Pakistan. The sources of materials include national surveys, medical research, and research conducted by nongovernmental organizations. This review revealed that sexuality among young people is considered a taboo subject. Since awareness about sexually transmitted disease...
Article
Women's access to health and family planning services is limited in Pakistan, despite a growing contraceptive prevalence rate. In 1997, a small, qualitative study in three villages in rural Punjab explored restrictions on female mobility and other social barriers to accessing these services, in relation to women's status, concepts of honour and the...
Article
Women's access to health and family planning services is limited in Pakistan, despite a growing contraceptive prevalence rate. In 1997, a small, qualitative study in three villages in rural Punjab explored restrictions on female mobility and other social barriers to accessing these services, in relation to women's status, concepts of honour and the...
Article
Pakistan launched one of the first population control programmes in the 1950s, yet has lagged far behind other countries in effectively implementing or developing its understanding of population programmes. This paper explores the policy-making process which shaped the programme in Pakistan in terms of the political considerations of the various mi...

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Projects

Projects (4)
Project
This research aims to gather insights into the complexity of daily life during and after the COVID-19 pandemic in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and major hub of the outbreak. FACT Pakistan is part of a ten country international research consortium led by UCL to study the effect of Covid-19 on families and communities. We investigate the challenges experienced by families, the risks posed to well-being, and the steps being taken by families to overcome these risks during these difficult times. The study will use online ethnographic research methodology, using online journaling and interviews. By focusing on families, we will explore both how individuals respond to public health measures put in place, and how these are negotiated with others in the household and family.
Project
Phase 2: The A4EA research programme is implemented by the Institute for Development Studies, funded by DFID. In the second phase, which began in April 2019, I am involved in three work streams. The first is a study of women's leadership in contentious politics in Pakistan. The second is an examination of two donor-funded initiatives that support collective action for empowerment and accountability in direct and indirect ways. The third is a study of civic spaces, involving real-time tracking of how the pandemic has changed or disrupted existing trends. Phase I: Women's Political Participation in Pakistan: This is a study on women's collective action to increase their political voice at three levels: the women's movement advocacy campaign to restore reserved seats in elected assemblies, formation of a women's caucus in assemblies, and local action to overcome militants' blocking of women's votes. The study is part of a multi-country research programme funded by UK's DFID and implemented through IDS Sussex, called Action for Empowerment and Accountability.