MDP Alumni| Sidra Khalid makes Emory's 40 Under Forty List

By Kia Lisby

Sidra Khalid

Pakistani immigrant and Laney Graduate School Class of 2018, Sidra Khalid is the first in her family of doctors to pursue a career in global development.   

To prepare for it, Khalid enrolled in the Master’s in Development Practice at Emory University, graduating in 2018. 

Khalid’s accomplishments during and after her time at Emory led her to be included among the 2023 Emory 40 Under Forty alum award recipients. The award program shines a light on a select number of notable alumni who are becoming pioneers in their fields.  

After graduating, Khalid stayed connected with the relationships she made at Emory. The MDP Director, Dr. Carla Roncoli, encouraged her to apply for her current role as a gender and social inclusion researcher with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). IWMI is a global research-for-development center that seeks to address water management challenges faced by poor communities worldwide.  

Dr. Roncoli was also the person to share the 40 Under Forty opportunity with Khalid, which she then applied for and was selected. Having forgotten about her candidacy for the alumni award, Khalid received a selection email, which was a “pleasant surprise,” she says.  

“It’s a cool thing that I’m proud of. I hope I can live up to the award.”  

Khalid earned her MDP with a concentration in gender justice because she had always been interested in how social norms and power relations disempower and discriminate against vulnerable groups, especially seeing this firsthand during her time in Pakistan.  

During her master’s program, Khalid interned with Atlanta-based non-profits, such as CARE USA. As an intern with the CARE Gender Justice team, Khalid worked on projects such as Tipping Point, which focused on ending early child marriage in South Asia, and CARE Pathways Program, in Africa and South Asia, working to empower women farmers and increase food and nutrition security.  

While studying at Emory, Khalid spent two summers working with Save the Children in Kyrgyzstan for her required MDP field practicums. In this role, she conducted formative research and contributed to developing a gender curriculum, Choices, to help young adolescents understand how social and cultural norms shape gender inequality.  

The curriculum was later published and formally adopted In Kyrgyz schools.  

Born in Pakistan and raised in California, Khalid was exposed to both worlds. While growing up, she would spend her summers in Pakistan with family but remained grounded in her cultural roots even while living in the States.  

“I grew up in a Pakistani household with an Eastern and Western upbringing. Kudos to my parents for keeping us [Khalid and her siblings] connected to our culture growing up.”    

Today, Khalid continues to live and work in Pakistan, promoting gender research within IWMI, especially in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector. 

As part of one of IWMI’s research projects, Khalid conducted a community-based WASH survey in two urban towns, using the Individual Water Insecurity Experiences (IWISE) scale.   

“I’m proud because it’s the first time we’ve used it in Pakistan, and it allowed us to produce evidence about the gap between women and men’s experiences of water insecurity.”   

In addition to this year’s Emory 40 Under Forty alumni award, Khalid’s’ innovative and impactful work earned her the 2022 Transformative Research Challenge prize by the World Food Forum. Learn more here.