Saira Shameem has a degree in physics and postgraduate qualifications in occupational health and safety. She has volunteered with various women’s rights and human rights organisations in the last 22 years, primarily in strategic planning and organizational development. She joined the Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development, APWLD, in 1996 followed by eight years with The Urban Governance Initiative (TUGI), a regional project of the United Nations Development Programme that invested in civil society and local government capacity building. She became the executive director of a regional women’s health and rights organisation, the Asia-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) in 2005. In the nearly seven years at ARROW, she worked to strengthen organizational accountability mechanisms, partnership building, sustainable funding, grassroots empowerment and women-centred service provision and development. She left ARROW in 2011 and is currently the Programme Adviser at UNFPA Malaysia Country Office.
Ms Shameem was the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Group from 2011 to 2013.