Samra Zafar is an award-winning international speaker, community leader, scholar, author and social entrepreneur. After escaping a decade of abuse as a child bride, Samra graduated as a top student at the
University of Toronto, receiving several prestigious awards and scholarships. Samra now serves as an alumni governor for the university, while pursuing a successful corporate career. She frequently lectures on gender equality at many prestigious universities, including Yale. Her speaking portfolio includes two TEDx talks, as well as engagements with Amnesty International, ME to WE, Women’s Business Network, and many major corporations, associations, and non-profits across North America and beyond. Her 2017
TEDx Talk was named an all-time top 10 talk on gender-based violence. In 2017, Samra penned an article about her personal journey for Toronto Life which became the most-read article in Canada that year and earned a nomination for the National Magazine Awards. Samra’s work has been featured in prominent media, including CTV, CBC, Global News, Yahoo, and many others. Samra’s book, A Good Wife, published by HarperCollins Canada, will appear in bookstores across Canada in March 2019, and has been highlighted as a top read by The Washington Post.
How Vulnerability Inspires Collective Resilience, Authentic Leadership and Human Connections
Do you feel you’re hiding your true self in order to fit in? Do you find yourself stressing to present a perfect self? Do you suffer from impostor syndrome—discounting your accomplishments and focusing on your weaknesses? If so, what can you do to lessen the grip of perfectionism and other-centred focus in your life, to lean in to your authentic self, and to simply be? People often walk around in self-made prisons of judgment, with the key held by others from whom they seek validation and approval. However, by embracing our authenticity and allowing ourselves to be seen, we foster genuine trust, real connection, and collective resilience that enables us to unlock our true potential and to become leaders in our communities and our lives. Join Samra on a journey of resilience, leadership and personal discovery of the power of vulnerability.
Education for Empowerment
Education is a right – yet for many around the world, it is a privilege that is often denied. Join Samra as she shares her own heartbreaking and empowering story of being trapped in a forced, abusive marriage as a child bride, using education to escape and build a new life, and now advocating for change so that others don’t face the same obstacles to building a fulfilling, enriching life. Samra’s experiences illustrate how the power of continuous learning allows us to expand our minds, connect through mutual purpose and values, and unlock our individual and collective potential.
The Gift of Adversity
As a child forced into a marriage and being subjected to years of abuse, Samra moved forward from a place of no hope to creating a happy new life for herself and her daughters. As she shares her story of pain, despair, hopelessness, and subsequently freedom, happiness, and self-love, Samra talks about the gift of adversity and how it helps us cultivate a deep gratitude for life. “We have the power to let our experiences shape us into ‘bitter’ or ‘better’. The choice is ours to make.
The Culture of Honour
Breaking the silence around honour-based, structural abuse – a hidden reality that creates a vicious and complex cycle of mental, emotional, psychological, sexual, physical and societal violence. What can we do as leaders, individuals and community members to make a difference? Related Topics: Intersectionality of abuse and culture; Generational cycle of abuse; Family Violence and Children; Educating youth on Gender-based Violence.
Violence Against Women – What Can Workplaces Do to Make a Difference?
One in three women in North America are affected by intimate partner violence at some point in their lives. Every day, around the world, 137 women are killed by an intimate partner. Factoring in “invisible” violence, such as stalking and emotional and mental abuse, the number is much higher. Recent movements like “MeToo” and “Time’s Up” have demonstrated how women from all walks of life, educational backgrounds, professional achievements and financial status are affected by violence. Change starts with our surroundings – families, communities, schools, and workplaces. Often times, the workplace is the only place that a woman feels safe. However, fear of judgment, of being perceived as a “victim”, or of diminished career prospects makes a woman feel unsafe to come forward. With recent policy reforms like paid “off” days for a woman affected by violence and greater funding for this sector, it is more important than ever before for workplaces to play a role in supporting women affected by violence by building inclusive, non-judgmental work environments, so women feel safe to ask for that help. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do – because safe and supported employees mean productive employees.
(various topics including types of abuse, gaps in support mechanisms, importance of awareness, and how workplaces can play a role)
Samra’s talks can also cover themes of Authentic Leadership and Mentorship, as well as issues surrounding Gender Equality, Poverty and Community. Learn more about Samra on her website, www.samrazafar.com.
Previous keynotes and workshops:
• National Family Violence Conference keynote, “The Power of Mentorship” (Edmonton)
• Manulife Leadership Event keynote
• Schulich Business School career event keynote
• Ivey Business School – Women in Management Leadership Conference keynote
• Brilliant Minded Women Gala – receiving Self Development Award (Toronto)
• Presidents’ Circle featured speaker, “Education for Empowerment” (University of Toronto)
• Edmonton Public School Board keynote speech, “Resilience and Mental Health”
• Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (Chatham)
• Enbridge and Union Gas executive leadership conference keynote, “How Authenticity Inspires
• The Citizen’s Foundation keynote, “Education for Empowerment” (Montreal)
• Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society keynote, “Bringing Inspiration to the Workplace” (Montreal)
• Family Transition Place Shelter keynote, “The Gift of Hope” (Orangeville)
• Rexdale Women’s Centre 40th anniversary keynote
• Canada Pakistan Affiliated Chamber of Trade – official national spokesperson and winner of Malala
Yousafzai Women Empowerment Award
• Harper Collins National Sales Conference keynote
• United Nations Status of Women Commission (finalist nominee as Canadian delegate)
• Two TED Talks (selected as top 10 talks on gender equality)
• National Magazine Awards (nominated for Toronto Life article, “A Good Wife”)
• TVO International Women’s Day keynote (Ottawa)
• Women in Leadership and Business (Halifax)
• Women’s Presidents Organization (Halifax)
• Keynotes at universities: Yale, U of T, York, Ryerson, Schulich, Queen’s, Western, Florida, Humber,
Sheridan, and many other colleges and schools
• Toronto and Peel District school boards (keynotes)
• National Family Violence Conference (Edmonton)
• Northeast Support Services (Saskatchewan)
• Circles of Hope Shelter (Calgary)
• RBC Private Banking National Office International Women’s Day keynote (Toronto)
• University of Toronto Presidents’ Circle “Building a Better Tomorrow” featured speaker
• WE Day Atlantic Canada (Halifax)
• RBC Women’s Forum ERG event
• Peel Children’s Aid Foundation keynote and award recipient
• Women’s Business Network International Women’s Day Keynote
• WE Kenya (with Kisaruni school)
• Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs IWD keynote (Toronto)
• A Good Wife, to be published by Harper Collins in Canada in March 2019 to mark International Women’s Day
• International rights currently being sold in USA, UK, Europe, Australia, India
• RBC Global Citizen Award 2017
• Ascend Canada Mentor Of The Year Award 2018
• Malala Yousafzai Women Empowerment Award – Canada Pakistan Affiliated Chamber of Trade 2018
• Woman of Courage Awards – several organizations
• Spotlight Award – Canada Pakistan Professionals Association
• Brilliant Minded Woman Award 2018
• Pink Attitude Award 2018
• Proclamation by Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio 2017
• John H Moss Scholarship (University of Toronto)
• Gold Medalist in Economics (University of Toronto)