It gives me inexplicable joy each time I read the news and come across stories where women are involved in non-conventional roles/jobs that breaks down all barriers, especially in patriarchal societies, where women are seen as nothing more than housewives and child-bearers. And, then, just today, I read about Zahida Kazmi – Pakistan’s VERY first female cab-driver – and my heart soared! (The link to the full story can be accessed here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12680075.)
This incredible woman has been a cab driver for almost 20 years! If that’s not something to be wowed about, then I don’t know what is! Though, it’s such a shame that her own children never gave her the support that she needed. It would have surely made things easier for her; but then again, being the strong and independent woman that she is and always has been, she’s better off anyway. I know children are children and it’s hard to cut ties with them, but honestly, if they’re not there for you, then I say good riddance. I know I sound insensitive, but then that’s just my opinion.
Anyway, it appears that during the early 90s, four important challenges confronted women in Pakistan; and these were increasing practical literacy, gaining access to employment opportunities at all levels in the economy, promoting change in the perception of women’s roles and status, and gaining a public voice both within and outside of the political process. And, so, for Zahida to gain employment as a cab driver wasn’t as hard then as it would be now; of course, considering the rise of religious extremism, which continues to undermine women and girls, as to such extremists, they’re deemed as “inferior” to men. :: rolls eyes :: I mean, to these assholes, seeing a woman driving a cab, much less driving, is equivalent to an abominable crime! They would, in fact, condemn it all together, saying that women shouldn’t be cab drivers because, well, they are WOMEN and therefore weak. And also because they are WOMEN they can easily be raped or harassed by men. So, in order to avoid all that bullshit, it’s best she refrain from “exposing” herself like that. After all, “God” wouldn’t want it that way, anyway. Oh, and women who rebel against the wishes of this, er, “God” won’t live long. Gee, I wonder how they know this. Perhaps this deity called them up from the Heavens one day and told them. You think?
I mean, seriously, what era are we living in again? It just saddens me how in countries like Pakistan, a woman driving a cab is seen as “ground-breaking.” You’d think that by 2011, stuff like this would be commonplace by now. But, no, because it’s SO rare and hardly happens, because many women, unlike the brave Zahida Kazmi, don’t have the means to take on such jobs, due to ridiculous and obtuse restrictions imposed on them, and that too by men; they have no choice but to remain subjugated. And, gosh, nothing boils my blood to the core of my being than seeing women empowered by men, just because they are seen and made to believe that they are worthless. Pathetic much?
But alas! This is why Pakistan is called a “developing country,” no? Come to think of it, the word developing is terribly misleading. If anything, the country is regressing – it’s FAR from developing, if at all. And even if it does claim to argue otherwise, the only thing they’ve managed to develop in is massive corruption, women empowerment, mass killings, and religious extremism.
But, anyway, coming back to Zahida Kazmi, I wish and very much long to see more and more courageous women like her come out and take on roles that are solely reserved for men. Women who are not afraid of what society will think of them, because they know what they are capable of; women who are confident that they will succeed no matter what restrictions are thrown their way. Zahida is a great inspiration and may she continue to prosper, for there is no doubt that she will go down in history as one of the boldest and greatest Pakistani women that has ever lived.