Varsha is a social entrepreneur turned researcher who brings a host of experience as a development practitioner to the team. With a focus on Gender Development and Global Health, Varsha has worked on various projects in Pakistan, Nepal, Cambodia, Greece and the United States. Varsha recently worked as a consultant to support the Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports’ efforts to launch an NGO coordination and Aid harmonization project with a goal of improving primary education and in-service teacher training. Previously, during her work with Coca-Cola in South Africa, Varsha distilled research and qualitative stakeholder interviews into innovative solutions to address youth unemployment and water scarcity. Varsha has designed and led various projects to promote girls’ education in Cambodia and to foster interfaith harmony and peacebuilding in Pakistan. She also campaigned and advocated against forced conversions and child marriages in rural Sindh.
Varsha grew up in rural Pakistan where she did not have a chance to attend school and therefore taught herself a number of subjects, including English and Mathematics. From her individual education starting at the age of twenty to her connections with other rural girls and women, Varsha formed learning circles that have helped over 200 girls across five rural areas in Sindh, Pakistan. Varsha’s work for women in Cambodia and Pakistan was featured by Michelle Obama during her “Let Girls Learn” address in 2015 in Doha.
Varsha’s policy research and perspective have been informed by her graduate study of global Human Development at Georgetown as well as her experiences of growing up without formal education in the rural areas of Pakistan. As a Junior Centennial Fellow at the Walsh School of foreign Service, Varsha conducted rigorous research with Dr. Azar Nafisi on the role and importance of female political participation under theocratic regimes. Varsha is interested in strengthening the role of research in international development management in order to connect research and policy more efficiently with practice. Varsha is also interested in exploring the importance of women’s participation in the post-conflict relief and recovery as well as examining the role of women – particularly from ethnic and religious minorities – in peacebuilding.