After decades of driving her taxi, local legend Zahida is still struggling to make a living on the roads of Rawalpindi.
“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.” – Zahida, Pakistan’s first female taxi driver
In 1992, Zahida became Pakistan’s first female taxi driver and a local legend.
Twice widowed, she is independent, feisty and street-wise, with a reputation for being a master hustler.
But now, aged 56 and with a seven-year-old daughter to raise, she is still fighting to make a living on the dusty roads of Rawalpindi.
“My life is one big struggle,” she reflects.
“It’s a sin to be a woman in Pakistan … It’s 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.”
Witness follows Zahida as she juggles motherhood with life behind the wheel, ferries her customers around the city and tussles with male taxi drivers, discussing the roles and rights of women as well as competing for custom.
In quiet moments off the road, she recites nostalgic poetry and reflects on her fate.
“We make our own destinies,” she says. “If I had sat at home, I would’ve had no future. I worked hard to get this far.”