Rafia Zakaria

Rafia Zakaria

Author, Editor and Attorney

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Rafia Zakaria is an author, editor and attorney. She has been a weekly columnist for DAWN, Pakistan’s largest and oldest English language daily since 2009. Her column is syndicated in newspapers all over the world through the Inter Press Service and is regularly republished in the Deccan Chronicle, The Wire India, Kathmandu Post, Sri Lanka Guardian, Korea Herald, New Straits Times and The Internazionale among others. She writes the “Alienated” column for The Baffler and has previously been a regular columnist for Al Jazeera America. She also writes regularly for Guardian Books and is a CNN Opinion contributor. Her recent New York Times Op-Ed “The Myth of Women’s Empowerment” was shared over 30K times on Facebook.

From 2009-2015 Rafia served on Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA and was the first Pakistani-American woman to do so. In Fall 2016 she was part of the “How Should Journalism Cover Terrorism” Project at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. In Fall 2017 she along with political scientists Kate Cronin-Furman and Nimmi Gowrinathan published the “Emissaries of Empowerment” report for the Colin Powell Center for Civic and Public Leadership. The report (which calls out racism in women’s empowerment initiatives in international development) was featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian.


Rafia is the author of two books The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan which was selected one of the “Best Non-fiction Books of 2015” by Newsweek Magazine and Veil (2017). She is currently under contract for a third book A Different Life with Beacon Press.