On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020, CRID collaborated with Disability Innovation Institute UNSW, to discuss disability research trends, given the need for research to inform is policy is widely recognized. This free public webinar featured experts in the field of disability research and policy advocacy from Australia and Pakistan respectively, as well as Australia Awards Scholars from Pakistan who aspire to conduct disability research within Pakistan. With the hope to continue this knowledge-sharing process, this was an introductory webinar enlightening the audience about the landscape of disability sector in Pakistan and Australia, the similarity in the challenges faced and some of the focus areas of research being worked upon by the Pakistani scholars currently in Australia.
Profile of the Panellists:
Atif Sheikh, Director CIRD (STEP) and prominent Disability Activist
Atif is currently the Executive Director of Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP) which he founded in 1997 with the aim of mainstreaming disabled people in society. He serves as a senior disability-inclusive development advisor with several international organizations and is also affiliated with the Harvard Law School Disability Project. He remains the technical associate and member of the task forces, constituted by the Government of Pakistan, including Committee for the implementation of UNCRPD.
Leanne Dowse, Establishment Director Disability Innovation Institute (DII) UNSW Sydney
Leanne Dowse is Professor and Chair in Intellectual Disability and Behaviour Support [IDBS] at UNSW. She has been a researcher since 1995 and an academic since 2008. She has been a scholar, practitioner, and ally in the area of intellectual disability since the beginning of her professional career. She is a founding member of the Australian’s for Disability Justice Campaign, serves on a range of NSW and Federal government advisory bodies and one of the key people who led the establishment of the Disability Innovation Institute.
Muhammad Babar Shahzad, Australia Awards Scholar Flinders University, Adelaide
Babar is currently pursuing Masters in Disability Policy and Practice from Flinders University. He is a disability rights activist and certified computer access technology trainer (People with Vision Impairments) from Haripur, Pakistan. His area of research is the availability to assistive technology for people with vision impairments in the context of developing countries. He has represented Pakistan at various international forums related to disability and inclusive development.
Saira Ayub, Australia Awards Scholar, Flinders University, Adelaide
Saira’s educational background is in Economics and she is currently pursuing her Master’s in Education (Leadership & Management) from Flinders University Adelaide. Her research aspirations relate to challenges faced by undergraduate students with disabilities due to lack of inclusive education frameworks in Pakistan. She has also authored a number of articles and short stories on disability issues and served as provincial coordinator for National Forum of Women with Disabilities (NFWWD’s) in Pakistan.
Raana Zafar, Australia Awards Scholar, UNSW, Sydney
Raana is a LUMS Alumna and a development sector professional who is currently pursuing her Master’s in Development Studies from UNSW Sydney, as well as working with DIIU. She is amid finalizing her research project focused on Disability People’s Organizations (DPO’s) role in policymaking within Pakistan. She has worked with international donors managing complex capacity-building projects and now wishes to focus on the disability sector within Pakistan with the intention of investigating and addressing research and development gaps.