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Working at a non-profit providing legal aid to the impoverished in his native Pakistan, Amir Murtaza (MAIPS ’07) saw how poor women and their children were treated socially and to some extent also legally, as second-class citizens. He set out to study the marginalized in developing countries where patriarchal and feudal systems often worked to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable. “I was lucky to have had a great education and a supportive family,” says Amir, who set out to do his part to give a voice to and improve the lives of the disenfranchised.

Determined to “Be the Solution,” Amir won a Fulbright Scholarship and came to Monterey to study development and to advance his skills for grassroots level organization. He still stays in touch with many of his “incredible” teachers, but perhaps of even more value were the connections that he formed with other students— “brilliant people working in development for the social welfare of humankind.” He says that his fellow MIIS alumni now serve as a valuable “backland,” professionally as well as personally.

Amir describes his work as a consultant to major international aid agencies, UN organizations and Government of Pakistan as a great way to fund his passion for helping grassroots organizations. In February of 2011, he started the Human and Community Development Clinic to provide free technical assistance to cash-strapped local non-profit organizations, individuals, and community groups.

Amir is a passionate advocate against discrimination and marginalization of women and children, which he views as a major human rights concern. Since his graduation in 2007, Amir has been extensively writing on issues related to women and children in Pakistan and South Asia in an effort to raise awareness. His work has been widely published in journals, newspapers and websites of human right-focused organizations.

When not focused on improving the lives of the disenfranchised and poor, Amir can be found inspiring young people to follow his footsteps at the University of Karachi where he has taught courses related to human resource development. Now he is looking into adding a PhD degree to his already impressive resumé. “I am still single,” he shares laughingly, “and although my mom does not want to hear it, that means I have the opportunity to do what I like.”

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir