Shamim Akhtar, Pakistan Photograph:( WION )
Goods transportation is a male-dominated industry. In fact, even in the West, there are only a handful of women who can be seen driving trucks. Given that, one would scarcely expect a woman behind the wheel of a truck, ferrying goods in a conservative nation like Pakistan.
But that’s exactly what Shamim Akhtar has been doing. She is Pakistan's first woman truck driver and she loves her job. The 53-year-old began working as a driver to support her five children after her husband’s death. What started as a simple job for her, has now become an act that is breaking gender stereotypes and challenging the traditional perceptions of women in South Asia.
After her husband’s death, Shamim started taking lessons to drive heavy vehicles. An inspiration for many, she was issued a public service vehicle license, a first for a Pakistani woman, allowing her to pull trailers, drive trucks and tractors.
Akhtar not only drives in cities, but also ventures out on lengthy journeys, covering distances as far as 200 kilometres to transport goods. She says that she is proud to be challenging traditional mind-sets wherever she goes. Never the one to accept defeat, she carries with herself an enterprising attitude. While she drives, the truck and the road, all belong to her.
She hopes her story inspires many like her and that they follow their heart.
(Contributed by: Zeba Khan)