Sarah Ahmed (RMSP)

In this latest series of articles, we are publishing interviews of women working as a professional or a student in the technology sector. The objective is to highlight their work and contribution to the industry and the community.

In these interviews, you will find women working in technology to solve real-world problems, break stereotypes, and create the next big impact on the tech industry. This series of interviews shows that even with the lowest rate of women participation in the labor market in Pakistan, there are still many smart women who are creating and using technology to work wonders.

Today, we are featuring Sarah Ahmed. Read on to learn more about her work and get inspired.

7 - Young refugee advocates posing for a picture with the GIZ team during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence campaign in Karachi

1. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your education, and your work.

I work in the social and development sector in Pakistan and have a cumulative experience of over 9 years in the areas of human rights, peacebuilding, and post-conflict transformation. I am an Australia Awards scholar and hold a Master in Development Studies from the University of Melbourne. I feel that instead of choosing my career, my career chose me since I accidentally (but happily!) fell into it after a series of social volunteering experiences during my undergraduate degree. 

I currently work as a Technical Advisor with GIZ (German Cooperation) and look after a peacebuilding and social empowerment program geared towards refugees and host communities in Pakistan. 

2. What are your future plans/aspirations? How will it impact the community/society/your team/your project?

Passionate about positive social change and cultivating resilient communities, I have worked mainly on youth-focused programs all across Pakistan particularly focusing on vulnerable and underserved subgroups such as refugees, youth, minorities, people with disabilities, and women.

3. Please brag about your career accomplishments. What are the things you are proud of? 

Some professional milestones that I am proud of include being an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) 2016 fellow which is a highly selective exchange program of the U.S. State Department for professional leaders. In 2017, I also received an Australia Awards Scholarship for postgraduate studies at the University of Melbourne. While living and working in Melbourne from 2017-2018, I also received the Leaders in Community Award by the University of Melbourne and the New and Emerging Community Leaders Award by the Government of Victoria, acknowledging my voluntary contribution to local community projects with refugees and asylum seekers. In 2021, I was also selected to represent Pakistan at the Rotary Positive Peace Asia Activators platform. More recently, in 2022 I also received the prestigious Salamti Fellowship from Peace Without Borders Pakistan and was part of the Greater Good Accelerator powered by CaterpillHers and Atlas Corps

4. What has been your best education/career decision, and why?

My best education decision was to pursue my Master from Melbourne. More than academics, being in the “most livable city in the world” at the time gave me countless learning opportunities beyond the confines of a regular classroom. From community volunteering to exploring the Australian outback, I got to connect with indigenous communities and locals to learn the history and cultural evolution of the city. In Melburnians, I also found the most friendly and welcoming people who taught me the meaning of embracing and celebrating diversity. 

5. What are the best lessons you’ve learned?

The best lesson I have learned is to know that I know nothing (comes from Socrates, of course!) which has always driven me to be curious and seek to learn continually. I have also experienced that kindness and empathy are the rarest resources on earth, so when you find them, pay them forward tenfold.

16 Days Panel Discussion

6. Which woman inspires you and why?

I am inspired by all those women who break social molds and stereotypes to make atypical life and career choices. I am MOST inspired by those women who not only lift themselves up but also ten other women along with them. I believe that’s the definition of a true leader. A mentor and friend of mine, Amneh Sheikh – a craftpreneuer by profession, is one such inspiring woman around me. 

7. Do you think Pakistan has changed as a society in terms of accepting career-oriented women? What needs to change to help more women come forward?

I think yes, we have definitely come a long way in terms of accepting career-oriented women, however, there are miles to go. These women are expected to be superwomen of sorts who should be managing both work and household/caretaking duties with equal prowess. Career-oriented men are not held up to the same standards, on the other hand. This narrative needs to change to one where (i) women are not held up to such unrealistic standards, and (ii) in family settings, both men and women in the household share responsibilities.

8. What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

The biggest challenge for the coming generation of women, in STEM particularly, would be to fight for gender pay parity. While there is a gradual increase in women in the STEM field, there remains a wide gender pay gap which may discourage women from entering or remaining in STEM careers. 

9. What would it be if you could change one thing about the tech industry/business?

I would want the tech industry to be more gender-sensitive not only in their recruitment practices but also reflect similar values in the company culture. 

10. How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?

WomenInTechPK is a unique platform in Pakistan that can serve as an excellent networking platform for women in the tech sector across Pakistan. Since it’s a digital platform, its access is open to anyone, making it an excellent space for both remote and non-remote workers to connect and collaborate regardless of where they are located. 

You can follow Sarah Ahmed using her profile(s) below, and please do not hesitate to hire her for your next project.



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