Islamabad - Pakistan is still far behind in the international rankings, when it comes to the women’s rights. According to Women, Peace and security index, Pakistan is considered fourth worst country for women with highest discrimination ratio against women across the world. Despite the dismal circumstances, there are glaring examples of women empowerment in Pakistani society. One such example is Ghazala Bangash, a veteran driving instructor, residing in the capital. Ghazala Bangash is a grey-haired lady with face wings who runs her own driving school.

Inspired by her dad who drove a vespa scooter, she got behind the driving wheel of a Volkswagen during early 70’s.  Bangash then joined a driving school as an instructor in 1976 with a fixed monthly salary of Rs 500.

“Things can be tough for a woman driving instructor. When the owner of a driving school in Quetta refused me, I moved back to Islamabad and joined another driving school,” says Bangash. 4 years later, she set up her own driving school. Soon enough, Ghazala saved up to buy herself a car - a ‘Daihatsu ‘from Rawalpindi costing Rs 40,000.

“I have taught over 5 thousand students from twin cities how to drive, with some belonging to the third generation,” Ghazala says as she closes her admission register.

Ghazala is not only satisfied by her job, but shares fond memories with many of her older students.

 “She has not only been an instructor to me, but a mentor and a woman with lot of courage. She knows how to deal with stupid people”, one of her student shares.

“I still remember her words when I sat behind the driving wheel for the first time, she said “be confident and don’t get scared of the men and traffic,” Sadia Atif added.

Taking a sip of tea, Ghazala interrupted “I believe in independence of women. In our society, people often create problems for female drivers on the road, by abusing them, misbehaving or trying to hit their car. It is not easy to deal with these issues on a regular basis.”

A neighbor, Bangash continued, suggested to me to switch to another profession, but my passion for driving never let me down. However I’m also daughter and a sister, and my family has big role to play in my success.

Yahya Bhatti, 44, a resident of Rawalpindi said, “I along with my mother and sister learned driving from Ms Ghazala. Then my wife also learned to drive from her school in 2004. We can say that Ghazala Bangash has been a teacher of generations.

(Anas Ahmed is a correspondent for Waqt News, and can be reached at jranasahmed18@yahoo.com)

 

anas ahmed