Ms. Rafia Gulani was born on 11th February 1965 in the Diplo town of Tharparkar which is a poverty-stricken drought-prone region of the Sindh province of Pakistan. She hails from the Diplai Memon community which is known for its commitment to education. Her father Gul Muhammad Gulani was a renowned educationist and moved from his native Tharparkar to head the Government Degree College in Shahdadpur. Rafia received her primary education in her native town before joining her father in Shahdadpur for higher education. She received a masters degree in political science.
Rafia was active as an organizer from her student days when she worked from the platform of the Students’ Welfare Organization in her college. She also became active at that time in working on human rights in general and women’s rights in particular. These activities continued after she completed her formal education. She took part in mobilizations for women’s rights in various parts of the Sindh province and created networks of activists. She led campaigns in the defence of women who were victims of various forms of violence.
In 2000 Rafia consolidated her activism and networks into the Social Democratic Women Organization (SDWO). She is one of the first women activists in her region have formed her own organization and built partnerships with other civil society actors. Rafia is driven by the dream of a word in which each woman will be respected as an individual and her rights ensured. She has a particular passion for working for rural women of Sindh who are doubly oppressed under the burden of economic exploitation and patriarchy. She is committed to innovating with non-violent methods of mobilization and protest in an otherwise violent society.
Rafia Gulani has taken part in various research projects, trainings, and seminars related to her work, within the province, nationally, and internationally. Her professional engagements have included a range organizations such as the Collective for Social Science Research (the organization to which I belong), the South Asia Partnership, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the Pakistan Women Lawyers’ Association and others.