Unbreakable

Pakistani woman, 24, overcomes barriers — and stereotypes — to make her dream a reality

Uzma Nawaz is no stranger to hardship. Growing up in the small impoverished town of Dunyapur in Pakistan’s Punjab province, the 24-year-old endured derisive and discouraging comments when she decided to pursue her dream of becoming one of the country’s only female car mechanics by seeking a degree in mechanical engineering. In order to afford her schooling, she won scholarships and regularly skipped meals to make ends meet. But in the end, she says, it was all worth it. Nawaz now works at an auto repair garage, where her hard work and expertise soon earned her a promotion to general repairs just a year after she was hired. Her colleagues respect her — a co-worker named M Attaullah tells the AFP that she handles repairs and even heavy lifting “like a man with hard work and dedication” — and even those who once derided the notion of women working as mechanics, she says, have changed their minds after seeing her at work.

“I took it up as a challenge against all odds and the meager financial resources of my family,” she told AFP. “Mostly people think about it negatively: ‘Why is she doing such hard work and maybe she cannot do such heavy work,’” she told AFP. “But when they see me … they’re really surprised.”

“No hardship,” she added, “could break my will and motivation.”

Her father, Muhammad Nawaz, acknowledged some reservations about his daughter’s decision to work as a mechanic, but said that in the end so long as she was happy, he was too.

“There is no need in our society for girls to work at workshops, it doesn’t seems nice, but it is her passion,” he said. “She can now set up the machinery and can work properly. I too am very happy.”

Watch video of Nawaz’s interview with AFP below.

Read the full story at The Express Tribune.

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