Saman Ahsan


  • Program Year
  • 2003-04
  • Country of Current Residence
  • Pakistan
  • City/Town of Current Residence
  • Lahore
  • Profession(s)
  • Advocate, NGO Program Director

  • Sector(s)
  • Advocacy, Gender equality, Women's rights
  • Language(s)
  • Punjabi, English
  • Interest(s) / Expertise
  • advocacy, empowerment of women, gender equality, human rights, leadership development
Scholar Twitter profile Scholar LinkedIn profile Scholar website URL Scholar email address

Saman has worked on behalf of girls and young women for most of her career. Saman is the former Executive Director of Girls Action Foundation, a charity organization that supports the leadership development of girls and young women across Canada.

From 2008 to 2009, Saman worked at the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in the team developing and managing Global Initiatives. This team was responsible for launching a pilot project, Affordable Medicines Facility – malaria (AMFm), which aimed to make malaria medicines more affordable in endemic countries. This took her back to the field of development, which is her main interest. Saman worked and studied at the World Economic Forum, where, from 2005 to 2008, she was Manager of the Council of 100 Leaders: West-Islamic World Dialogue. An important initiative that she coordinated in this position was the publication and launch of an Annual Report on the State of Dialogue, prepared in collaboration with Georgetown University and the Gallup Organization. Saman was recruited by the Forum for its prestigious mid-career Global Leadership Fellows Programme, which provided exposure to a variety of leadership opportunities from policy making to business management.

Saman’s extensive experience in the NGO sector includes Coordinator of the Women, Youth and Environment Section of the Family Planning Association of Pakistan, and National Coordinator of UNICEF’s Girl Child Project Pakistan. She participated in and gave presentations at the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) Girl Child Symposium Rawalpindi; the UN Special Session for Children, New York;  the SAARC Youth Workshop Kathmandu; and Conference on Safe Motherhood Colombo.

In June 2008, Saman obtained her Masters in Global Leadership, awarded by the Global Economic Forum in association with INSEAD and Columbia University. She holds an MSc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and a BA in Anthropology from McGill University.

As a Fellow

Saman learned video production from fellow Scholar and in-house expert, Paul Shore. She then made a film on the Girl Child Project Pakistan. Saman visited project locations in Pakistan, filmed activities, interviewed girls, trainers, family and community members, and produced a 13-minute documentary on the impact of the project on the girls’ lives. It was a labour of love and from the initial idea to the very last task, Saman enjoyed every second of it.

In May 2015, Saman returned to Sauvé House to participate in Sauvé Encore! 2015, as part of the Foundation’s alumni outreach program.


“The biggest benefit I got out of the Program was the love, friendship and support of some of the most amazingly wonderful people on earth including Jim, Nancy, Harry, Helen and all my fellow Scholars, and above all their faith in me that made me begin to believe that I can be a leader.”