Ayesha Khan

Academic Background

MA South Asian Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, UK.
BA Philosophy, Yale University, US

Research Experience

Ayesha has been conducting research with the Collective since 2001. She works on gender, politics, social policy, reproductive health and other development issues. She is author of The Women’s Movement in Pakistan: Activism, Islam and Democracy (2018). Her current research projects are in partnership with Action for Empowerment and Accountability, an international research programme which explores how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict, and violent settings. She is also co-leading the Pakistan component of an international research collaboration to understand the impact of Covid-19 on family life using online ethnographic methodologies.

Ayesha has served on the governing bodies of leading non-governmental organizations working on women’s issues. She participates in advocacy-related task forces to influence government policy, and teaches part-time at the IBA in Karachi.


Ayesha Khan's book The Women’s Movement in Pakistan: Activism, Islam and Democracy was published by IB Tauris in 2018. She argues the women’s movement a crucial contribution to the evolution of the Pakistani state. At a time when the women's movement in Pakistan is in danger of shrinking, this book highlights its historic significance and its continued relevance today. The book was reviewed in the journals Gender and Development and Women’s History Review. Ayesha discusses the book in a podcast episode of Between the Lines.

Research Interests

Gender, politics, social policy, reproductive health, qualitative research methodology.

Reports and Publications at the Collective

  1. Ayesha Khan and Sana Naqvi, Dilemmas of Representation: Women in Pakistan’s Assemblies. Asian Affairs. Volume 51, Issue 2, pages 286-306. May 2020.

  2. Ayesha Khan, Where Does the Global Women’s Movement Go Now? Collective Blog. December 2019.

  3. Ayesha Khan, Sara Malkani and Zonia Yousuf Baltistani, Women activists strategic use of the courts in Pakistan. Contemporary South Asia. Volume 47, Issue 2, pages 549-557. November 2019.

  4. Ayesha Khan, Reproductive rights. Collective Blog. June 2019.

  5. Ayesha Khan, Women activists and their turn to the courts. Collective Blog. May 2019.

  6. Mariz Tadros and Ayesha Khan, Beyond the Religious/Secular Binary Trap: Keeping the Focus on Gender Equality. IDS Policy Briefing 165, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies. April 2019.

  7. Ayesha Khan and Sana Naqvi, Empowering Women Politicians in Pakistan: Views from Within. IDS Policy Briefing 168, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies. April 2019.

  8. Ayesha Khan and Sana Naqvi, Women in Politics: Gaining Ground for Progressive Outcomes in Pakistan. IDS Working Paper 519, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies. November 2018.

  9. Ayesha Khan and Nida Kirmani, Moving Beyond the Binary: Gender-based Activism in Pakistan. Feminist Dissent, Issue 3, pages 151-191. November 2018.

  10. Ayesha Khan, Hina Jilani on the value of the rights discourse in the context of political Islam: Excerpts from an interview with Ayesha Khan. Feminist Dissent, Issue 3, pages 240-247. November 2018.

  11. Mariz Tadros and Ayesha Khan, Challenging Binaries to Promote Women's Equality: Introduction to Special Issue. Feminist Dissent, Issue 3, pages 1-22. November 2018.

  12. Ayesha Khan, How Aid has helped Pakistan’s Women’s Movement achieve Political Breakthroughs. From Poverty to Power, Oxfam Blog. October 2018.

    Keywords: Aid, Gender, Politics

  13. Ayesha Khan, Which is worse: corruption or misogyny? Collective Blog. August 2018.

    Keywords: Democracy, Politics, Women

  14. Ayesha Khan, Rest in Power, Asma Jahangir. Collective Blog. February 2018.

  15. Ayesha Khan, Pakistani politics: Where are the women? Collective Blog. October 2017.

    Keywords: Politics, Women

  16. Ayesha Khan, Pakistan's Jirgas: Buying Peace at the Expense of Women's Rights? Collective Blog. July 2017.

  17. Haris Gazdar and Ayesha Khan, Coercion Inside the Home. Collective Blog. August 2016.

  18. Haris Gazdar and Ayesha Khan, Bonded Labour in Domestic Work and Begging. in A. Qureshi and A. Khan eds. Bonded Labour in Pakistan. Oxford University Press. August 2016.

    Keywords: Labour

  19. Ayesha Khan, The Price of Political Islam. Collective Blog. December 2015.

  20. Ayesha Khan, Samar Zuberi, Rashid Mehmood and Rabia Khan, Best Practices in Girls' Enrolment in Pakistan. The Citizens Foundation: A Case Study. August 2015.

    Keywords: Education, Gender, Women

  21. Ayesha Khan, Samar Zuberi, Rashid Mehmood and Rabia Khan, Best Practices in Girls' Enrolment in Pakistan. The Citizens Foundation: A Case Study. Research Report. August 2015.

    Keywords: Education, Gender, Women

  22. Ayesha Khan, Bringing Real Change for Women. Collective Blog. April 2015.

    Keywords: Development, Gender

  23. Ayesha Khan, DNA and the Pursuit of Justice. Collective Blog. January 2015.

  24. Ayesha Khan, "The black spot on the radiant face of Islam" : Muslim Family Laws Ordinances 1961. Collective Blog. October 2014.

    Keywords: Gender, Legislation

  25. Naila Kabeer and Ayesha Khan, Cultural Values or Universal Rights? Women's Narratives of Compliance and Contestation in Urban Afghanistan. Feminist Economics, Volume 20, Issue 3, 1 -24. June 2014.

    Keywords: Gender

  26. Ayesha Khan, Paid Work as a Pathway of Empowerment: Pakistan's Lady Health Worker Programme. in A. Cornwall and J. Edwards, eds. Feminisms, Empowerment and Development: Changing Women's Lives. London. Zed Books. March 2014.

    Keywords: Gender, Health

  27. Ayesha Khan, Reproductive Health Knowledge and Perceptions: A Rapid Assessment in Four Villages in Sindh. Indus Resource Centre, Karachi. February 2014.

  28. Ayesha Khan, Induced Abortion in Pakistan: Community-Based Research. Journal of Pakistan Medical Association, vol.63, no.4 (Suppl 3), pp. S27-S32. April 2013.

  29. Ayesha Khan, Asad Sayeed, Fatima Haider and Sidra Kamran, Child Protection System Mapping and Assessment 2013 - Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. UNICEF. March 2013.

  30. Ayesha Khan, Asad Sayeed, Saba Shaikh, Asad Jamal and Sidra Kamran, Child Protection System Mapping and Assessment 2013 - Punjab. UNICEF. January 2013.

  31. Asad Sayeed, Ayesha Khan, Fatima Haider and Sidra Kamran, Child Protection System Mapping and Assessment - Sindh. UNICEF. December 2012.

  32. Asad Sayeed, Ayesha Khan and Sidra Kamran, Child Protection System Mapping and Assessment - Balochistan. UNICEF. December 2012.

  33. Ayesha Khan, Democracy and Women's Rights: Pakistan's Progress (2007-2012). Pakistan NGO Alternative Report on CEDAW 2005-2009 (With Updated Notes 2009-2012). Islamabad: Aurat Foundation Publication and Information Service. 2012.

  34. Ayesha Khan, Social Science Research and Engagement in Pakistan. in A. B. Tickner and D. L. Blaney, eds., Thinking International Relations Differently. London and New York: Routledge. 2012.

  35. Haris Gazdar, Ayesha Khan and Saman Qureshi, Causes and Implications of Induced Abortion in Pakistan: A Social and Economic Analysis. Karachi. Collective for Social Science Research. June 2012.

  36. Ayesha Khan and Sarah Zaman, The Criminal Justice System and Rape: An Attitudinal Study of the Public Sector's Response to Rape in Karachi. War Against Rape (WAR) and Collective for Social Science Research. 2012.

    Keywords: Gender

  37. Ayesha Khan, Age at Marriage and Child-bearing in Pakistan. Social Science and Policy Bulletin, Lahore School of Management Sciences, vol. 2 no.3: 13-18. 2011.

  38. Ayesha Khan and Saman Qureshi, Researching Forced Migration in Pakistan: An Introduction to Research Ethics, Quantitative and Qualitative Methods. Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme. 2011. Islamabad: CAMP. 2011.

  39. Naila Kabeer, Ayesha Khan and Naysan Adlparvar, Afghan Values or Women's Rights? Gendered Narratives about Continuity and Change in Urban Afghanistan. IDS Working Paper 387, Brighton. Institute for Development Studies, University of Sussex. December 2011.

    Keywords: Gender

  40. Ayesha Khan, Lady Health Worker and Social Changes in Pakistan. Volume 46 No.30. Economic and Political Weekly. July 23, 2011.

    Keywords: Gender

  41. Ayesha Khan, Women and Paid Work in Pakistan in F. Azim and M. Sultan, eds. Mapping Women's Empowerment. Experiences from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan Dhaka: University Press Limited (UPL) and BRAC Development Institute (BDI) 2010

    Keywords: Gender, Labour

  42. Haris Gazdar, Ayesha Khan and Saman Qureshi, Measuring the Economic Costs of Unsafe Abortion Mortality and Morbidity in Pakistan: Preliminary Findings and Survey Design. Collective For Social Science Research, Karachi. January 2010.

    Keywords: Health, Gender

  43. Ayesha Khan, Using the Event Cycle Approach for Research and Programmes, Resource Brief No.2. Collective for Social Science Research, Karachi. June 2009.

    Keywords: Health, Gender

  44. Ayesha Khan, Unsafe Abortion-Related Morbidity and Mortality in Pakistan: Findings from a Literature Review. Research Output No. 2. Collective for Social Science Research, Karachi. March 2009.

    Keywords: Health, Gender

  45. Ayesha Khan, Women's Empowerment and the Lady Health Worker Programme in Pakistan. Collective for Social Science Research, Karachi. December 2008.

    Keywords: Gender, Health, Labour

  46. Ayesha Khan, Haris Gazdar and Shama Mohammed, Measuring the Economic Costs of Unsafe Abortion Related Morbidity and Mortality in Pakistan: A Review of Methodology and Approach. Research Output No.1. Collective for Social Science Research, Karachi. November 2008.

    Keywords: Health, Gender

  47. Ayesha Khan, Women and Paid Work in Pakistan. Collective for Social Science Research, Karachi. March 2007.

    Keywords: Labour, Gender

  48. The Collective Team, Afghans in Pakistan: Broadening the Focus. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, Kabul. January 2006.

  49. The Collective Team, Afghans in Quetta: Settlements, Livelihoods, Support Networks and Cross-Border Linkages. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, Kabul. January 2006.

  50. The Collective Team, Afghans in Peshawar: Migration, Settlements and Social Networks. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, Kabul. January 2006.

  51. The Collective Team, Afghans in Karachi: Migration, Settlement and Social Networks. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, Kabul. March 2005.

  52. Ayesha Khan and Rabia Khan, Civil Society and Social Change in Pakistan. Mimeograph. Collective for Social Science Research, Karachi. March 2004.

    Keywords: Civil Society

  53. The Collective Team, A Rapid Assessment of Bonded Labour in Hazardous Industries in Pakistan: Glass Bangle-making, Tanneries and Construction. Working Paper No. 21, Infocus Programme on Promoting the Declaration. International Labour Organization, Geneva. January 2004.

    Keywords: Bonded Labour, Labour

  54. The Collective Team, A Rapid Assessment of Bonded Labour in Domestic Work and Begging in Pakistan. Working Paper No. 22, Infocus Programme on Promoting the Declaration. Interational Labour Organization, Geneva. January 2004.

    Keywords: Bonded Labour, Labour

Press Publications

  1. Ayesha Khan, Understanding Honour Killing. TNS - The News on Sunday. February 2017.

    Keywords: Women, Women's Rights

  2. Haris Gazdar and Ayesha Khan, Bonded Labour in Domestic Work and Begging. Excerpt from Haris Gazdar and Ayesha Khan's chapter in 'Bonded Labour in Pakistan.' Dawn. August 2016.

  3. Ayesha Khan, Rape in Pakistan: The Real Verdict. OpenDemocracy.org. 17th May 2011.

    Keywords: Gender

  4. Ayesha Khan, Women's Health: Poor Services. Dawn. March 2011.

    Keywords: Health, Women

  5. Ayesha Khan, Sindh: the big picture. Dawn. September 2010.

  6. Ayesha Khan, Access to Rights . Dawn. August 2010.

    Keywords: Women's Rights

  7. Ayesha Khan, Unexpected Finding. Dawn. May 2010.

    Keywords: Health, Gender

Other Reports and Publications

  1. Ayesha Khan and Pamela Pine, Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health in Pakistan: Status, Issues, Policies and Programs. Washington DC: USAID/Policy Project. 2003.

  2. Haris Gazdar, Ayesha Khan and Themrise Khan, Land Tenure Rural Livelihood And Institutional Innovation. Department for International Development, Islamabad. 2002.

  3. Ayesha Khan, Adolescents and Reproductive Health in Pakistan: A Literature Review, Research Report No. 11. Population Council and United Nations Population Fund, Islamabad. 2000.

  4.
Gendering War Talk: 'We Are Scattered Like Seeds and the World is Full of Us', in International Feminist Journal of Politics, vol.5, no3. November, 2003.

  5. Adolescents and Youth Reproductive Health in Pakistan. Policy Project, New York, 2003.

  6. "Afghan Refugee Women's Experience of Conflict and Disintegration," in Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalismvol.3, no.1. 2002.

  7. The linkages between scholarship and advocacy: from a feminist analysis of research on the Karachi conflict. Working Paper No. 80. Sustainable Development Policy Institute: Islamabad, 2002.

  8. "Song of War," in Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, vol.2, no.2, 2002.

  9. With H Saeed. "Legalised Cruelty, Anti-Women Laws in Pakistan," in No Paradise Yet; the World's Women Face the New Century, eds J. Mirsky and M. Radlett. Zed/ Panos, London: 2000.

  10. Muslim Feminism and Social Reform in India 1904-1940. ASR Publications, Lahore: 2000.

  11. "Mobility of Women and Access to Health and Family Planning Services in Pakistan," Reproductive Health Matters, vol.7, no. 14, November, 1999.

  12. "Policy-making in Pakistan's Population Programme," Health Policy and Planning vol.11, no.1, March, 1996.

  13. Reproductive Decision-Making in Pakistan," in Private Decisions, Public Debate: Women, Reproduction & Population, Panos, London: 1994. [Book was Winner of Population Institute's 1995 Global Media Award for Excellence in Population Reporting].

  14. Women and the Pakistan Government: A Brief Policy History (1975-1998), United Nations Development Fund, Islamabad, 1998.

Collective Seminars


  1. Ayesha Khan, The Women's Movement in Pakistan: Activism Islam and Democracy, Collective Seminar 2018-05, 10 Sep 2018.