Sadia Akbar, M.Phil Women’s Studies


Since 2015 Doctoral Student of Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies
2006–2008 M.Phil (Women’s Studies) University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan
1994–1998 Samanabad College for Women, Lahore, Pakistan
1987–1989 Madrisa–tul–Binat

PhD-Project: Becoming Marriageable: Young Blind Women and their Experiences of Gender and Disability

Funded by the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.

By taking the disabled women’s perspective into consideration, the research aims to understand the construction of gender and disability in Pakistani society. It focuses on how disabled women (visually impaired) negotiate gendered role expectations and enhance their status in marriage market individually and/or with the help of family in order to claim their gender identity.

The life narratives of 20 physically disabled women from Lahore city (located in the Punjab province) were collected for this research by using a biographical interview technique. The women are aged between 18-42 years. The women’s impairments vary from physical to sensory. They hold different social positions depending on their education, socio-economic background, employment and marital status. Out of 20 women, the biographies of three visually impaired women are selected for the purpose of case reconstructions. The reason of focusing on three biographies of visually impaired women is that these women share quite similar characteristics in terms of type of impairment and age and educational level however, they hold different perspective towards disability, marriage and the way they identify themselves.

From a social constructivist point of view, the study reveals that the construction of disability is embedded in socio-cultural derogates that regard women as a burden and disability as an inability to function. The complex intermingling of gender and disability, based on the social positioning of impaired women, construct varied nature of disability experiences. The resistance of the interviewed women against less-positive and generalized perception as being ‘unable’ to perform socially expected roles becomes the tool to navigate the disabled status and access their marital right through higher education and employment. These women also resist the ascription of being less-appropriate for marriage by describing themselves as functional enough to perform feminine roles. Their struggles to renegotiate their identities are, however, intrinsically conditioned by their socio-cultural environments that are unsupportive and do not project positive perceptions of disabled women.



Akbar, Sadia. (2018). Disability Experiences and the Negotiation of Disabled Identity. Narratives of Physically Impaired Women in Pakistan. South Asia Chronicles, vol.8, 213-231.


2019: Socio-cultural construction of disability and materialities of spaces: barriers to participate and survive in higher education system for disabled women in Lahore (Pakistan), International Symposium on ‘Disability Studies and Participation in Higher Education’, Innsbruck University, 27th - 29th June.

2017: Parents and family appraisals for daughter’s disability and concerns for their social integration: Narratives of physically disabled women in Pakistan, International Symposium on ‘Family, Rights and Disabilities’, Innsbruck University, 23rd- 24th June.

2017: First analysis of my PhD dissertation, 22nd Humboldt India Project, 12 May.

2016: Materialities of disabled bodies: personal experiences of physically disabled women in Pakistan, International Conference on ‘Materialität/en und Geschlecht’, 12-13 February.

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