Zeenat Hisam is an independent writer-researcher from Pakistan. She was associated with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Karachi from 2003 to 2016. Prior to joining the development sector, Ms Hisam worked with Dawn, the English-language newspaper in Pakistan, from 1980 to 1991. She has written extensively on labour, gender and other social issues. She continues to be engaged in research and writing, especially on labour. Her published works include a number of research reports, two books, articles, columns, book reviews and travelogues.
Zeenat Hisam wrote weekly column (Diary of a Feminist) on women’s issues in daily Star, an English-language evening newspaper (1981-82) for two years. She also evaluated projects of several not-for-profit organisations on women and child healthcare; women’s empowerment; women prisoners; women and crisis management in Karachi violence; and the campaign against honour killings in the 1990s. She edited bi-monthly Urdu wall newspaper on environment and sustainable development, Hamara Mahoul (Our Environment) for Shirkatgah Women’s Resource Centre (1993-94).
Zeenat’s engagement with literature (Urdu and World literature) as a reader and translator spans decades. She translated Urdu short stories (of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Shafiqur Rehman) into English in the 1980s. She served as Executive Editor of the Urdu literary quarterly Aaj from 1989 to 2004. Her collection of translated short stories from English into Urdu, Mohr-e-Sukoot (2007), contains writings of Yusuf Idris, A.B. Yehushua, Donald Barthelme, Kim Monzo, Italo Calvino and Daniel Alarcon. Most recently, she has translated Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ novel One Hundred Years of Solitude (2020) and Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities (2021) from English into Urdu. Currently she is translating Elena Ferrante’s novel My Brilliant Friend.
Zeenat Hisam has a Master’s degree in Development Studies, specialising in Women and Development, from the Institute of Social Studies, the Hague, the Netherlands (1987-88). She also holds a Master’s degree in Psychology from the University of Karachi.
Zeenat Hisam is based in Karachi.