Zahida Kazmi, hailed as Pakistan’s first female taxi driver is perhaps a true example of an empowered woman and a role model for all women around the world, who is struggling to earn. Kazmi, who was married at the age of 13 and moved from Abbottabad to Karachi in 1972, became a widow when she was only in her early 20s.
After her husband had died, Zahida decided in 1992 to take her fate in her own hands by hitting the roads of the city. Then, she bought a yellow cab on easy installment through a government’s initiated employment scheme of 1987. Now, she drives her cab from the crowded markets of Islamabad to the remote tribal areas.
It was during Zia-ul-Haq’s increasingly conservative and religious regime that Kazmi started driving a taxi. More so, becoming perhaps the country’s first female cab driver. Her late husband, who was himself a taxi driver, had taught her how to drive.
Twice widowed and having jumped on to the roads to earn a livelihood for her family, she knew she lives in a male-dominated society. Initially, she wore a burqa and carried a gun while taking her passengers to their destinations. However, with the passage of time, her fears wore off. And gradually, she grew feisty and street-wise.
Turns out, even after decades of driving her taxi, local legend Kazmi is still struggling to make a living on the roads of Rawalpindi.
In an interview with Al Jazeera Witness, Kazmi disclosed, “It wouldn’t work if I left the house thinking that I’m a woman. To compete with men, I had to be like a man.”
Being a women is a sin in Pakistan, says Kazmi
Now, First Female Taxi Driver Zahida aged 56 and with a seven-year-old daughter to raise, she is still fighting and struggling to make a living on the dusty roads of Rawalpindi. “My life is one big struggle,” she reflects.
“It is a sin to be a woman in Pakistan… It is easy for men. No matter how hard a woman works, they say this is a woman’s earnings. Her work is not valued the same.”
Trying to improve her financial condition, Kazmi has proved that woman can do anything she sets her mind to regardless of how bad the situation might be or how discouraging the society might appear.
In quiet moments off the road, she recites nostalgic poetry and reflects on her fate. “We make our own destinies,” she opened up. “If I had sat at home, I would’ve had no future. I worked hard to get this far.”
Watch the inspiring video here
She is truly a role model for all the women out there trying to improve their financial and economic condition. The power of underprivileged women in Pakistan has always been undermined. They are never encouraged to explore their talents or practice what they believe in.
The story of Kazmi proves that a woman is capable of doing anything she sets her mind to no matter what. However, this is just one example but the list goes on and on. We have a list of 5 inspirational women that you might not have heard about, do check it out!
Story Credits: Al Jazeera Witness
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