Pakistani Disabled Women-Led Activism with Abia Akram & Zahida Hameed Qureshi

Pakistani Disabled Women-Led Activism with Abia Akram & Zahida Hameed Qureshi

CONTENT WARNING: Mentions of sexual and gender based violence.

The conversation featured in this episode was recorded a few weeks before Judy Heumann passed away on March 4th, 2023. This is the fourth of 5 final episodes of The Heumann Perspective that will be published over the next few weeks. All episodes of The Heumann Perspective will remain available indefinitely at

The transcript for this podcast episode is available here.

This episode is also available in video format on YouTube.

Headshot of Abia Akran, a Pakistani woman with long wavy black hair using a manual wheelchair and wearing glasses and a black shirt.

Abia Akram has been engaged in the Disability Movement since 1997. She is known as one of most active women with disabilities leader globally. In the struggle of giving voice to women with disabilities, she has been lobbying with parliamentarians, UN high level representatives focusing on developing advocacy strategies to raise awareness, network, and build capacity and at the UN level in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Inclusive Development. She also coordinates efforts of including persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its sustainable development goals. In particular, she established National Forum of Women with Disabilities, Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP), Aging and Disability Task Force (ADTF), and has been recently assigned the responsibility as Chair, Asia Paific Women with Disabilities Network. She is the Co-Coordinator, Asia Pacific Women with Disabilities United and Coordinator, South Asia Disability and Development Initiative (SADDI) Project, Executive Board Member, Commonwealth Disability Forum. Abia is also a Trustee for the Sightsavers UK and a Board Member of Asia Pacific Women, Law & Development (APWLD).

Photo of Zahina Hameed, a Pakistani woman who uses a motorized wheelchair wearing a white headscarf, and a colorful shirt.

Zahida Hameed Qureshi lives in Multan, Pakistan. When she was just 6-months-old, she got polio and as a result, both of her legs were paralyzed. She began using a wheelchair and found independence doing her daily chores without depending on her family. Zahida went to school, college, and university just like any other independent student. She completed her Masters in Economics from Bahauddin Zakriya University. After completing her education, Zahida was rejected from jobs in her field because of her disability. She finally landed a position at an organization called SPO where people with disabilities are encouraged to work. Working with SPO enabled Zahida to pursue her passion to work for people with disabilities, especially women with disabilities. This passion became an institution in 2007 when Zahida setup a DPO called Society for Special Persons. It works on the concept that "Disabled people are their best advocates" and provides them a platform to express their problems openly and fight for their rights. Zahida strongly believes that people with disabilities should not be view as a burden on society of their families. They must try their best to create opportunities for themselves in order to help improve the country.

Stay tuned for the final episode of The Heumann Perspective dropping next Wednesday.

Intro music by Lachi. Outro music by Gaelynn Lea.

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