Ms. Samar Naqvi's Profile

Samar is a Fulbright Scholar and a graduate of New York University (NYU), with a Master of Arts in Applied Psychology, and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Professionally, she has worked for United Nations, St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospital’s Family and Child Care Division, the Cooke Center for Learning and Development in New York and the Aman Foundation in Karachi. She also has an international publication with a chapter in American Psychological Association’s Handbook of Multicultural Psychology, 2013 to her credit.

Currently she is heading programs at the Network of Organizations Working with People with Disabilities, Pakistan (NOWPDP).

Samar has developed and delivered workshops with NGOs, schools, institutions and persons with disabilities, to ensure disability inclusion at all levels. Her array of training experiences include audiences at educational institutions such as Aga Khan University, Lyceum and IBA and organizations such as HBL, Engro and Shell. Samar has also represented NOWPDP and disability inclusion as a panelist and speaker at various broadcasting forums and other platforms, including a policy dialogue on inclusive education at LUMS.

She is a psychotherapist and counselor in training with a certificate in Counseling awarded by the Counseling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body, U.K.


A Transition from the Margins to Mainstream – Persons of Disabilities in Pakistan

The presentation will cover the backdrop and prevalence of disability in Pakistan. It will address a failed intervention, exploring its results with additional findings through research. Based on that, logical conclusions will be drawn and ideas for a comprehensive disability inclusion intervention will be presented. It will address issues in governance and education in the mainstream, while shedding light on psychological considerations and implications for Persons With Disabilities (PWDS) through instance and story sharing.

With approximately 27 million PWDs in the country, exclusion constitutes a loss of 6.3% or $12 billion, each year to the GDP. Yet, inclusion of Pakistan’s largest minority group continues to be a challenge.

For inclusion, an under-researched, simplistic project was carried out to place 200 individuals with disabilities at jobs, with the assumption that this would allow for sustained livelihoods. The results however showed a high turnover, relegation to unrewarding roles and instances of attitudinal discrimination.

Gleaning information from experience, literature and carrying out research, society’s continued neglect and inaction toward inclusion of PWDs was evident. Even the brightest of minds would consider PWDs a homogenous group of individuals, unable to work – reducing them to charity cases. Words like ‘bechara’ (poor soul) and concepts like pity and apathy were most commonly noted.

In addition, 22 in-depth interviews were carried out with PWDs (randomly selected, of different ages, genders, employment statuses, locations and disabilities) to get a holistic perspective.

The results corroborated the findings of the failed placement project stating institutional under preparedness but also highlighted the perception of PWDs to be a construct of societal attitudes. Findings indicated unrealistic expectations, a distorted sense of self, and sympathy seeking behavior (asking for relaxed hours, pick drop services).

The intervention/program we designed therefore had to be customized, comprehensive and two-fold:

  • At the institutional front: fostering tangible inclusion (through accessibility, policy protection and equal opportunity employment) and intangible inclusion (through a sensitized work environment)
  • At the PWDs front: promoting a realistic self-esteem, acceptance and education.

Ms. Samar Naqvi
Senior Manager – Programs
Network of Organizations Working with People with
Disabilities, Karachi

Fulbright Master’s
New York University




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