Crossing by the busiest road in Quetta city, wearing a black mask, scarf and a police hat, a traffic constable was spotted performing duty in freezing cold weather which caught many by surprise.
Nazia Siddiq, 37 years old, is amongst first four lady constables, deployed on prominent position to maintain the flow of traffic in Quetta, a city with population of over 2,269,473, where around 1 million registered number of cars, auto rickshaws and motorcycles are enough for causing frequent traffic jams.
Cultural barriers and decade-long conflict situations in Balochistan cause suppression of women in the province badly. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistic, participation of female labor in Balochistan is 5% only, lowest among all other provinces. Despite that, Nazia chose this profession and came out as a brave individual. She joined police force in 2014, “I take a lot of pride in being a part of the police department, I am a born patriot. My father was a police constable, I grew up appreciating the love, passion and dedication my father had towards his job. This inspired me to do what he did.” A few other members of her family are also a part of police force she informed.
Sana Durrani is a women rights activist and head of a women’s business forum. Sana said that women should be made stronger in this region, as they reside in a conflict zone so they must be fit to perform all sort of tasks when required. “Government took a great initiative by recruiting women in traffic police and by announcing posts for women in Levis. It is believed in our society that men are strong and women are weak therefore women are inadequate to protect themselves in case of terrorist attacks. Conflict is a hurdle for overall advancement around the country but for women it causes a lot more problems in their way, they cannot choose their desired professions because society thinks it not safe for them. Still, posts must be announced for women in all sectors, especially in setups who provide justice. It is crucial to have all genders in these setups to get better results as women will understand the problems of another more efficiently. Laws and visions should be made to make a better living environment for women.”
Breaking the gender stereotypes, about the kind of work women can do in a conservative province where conflicts emerge every few weeks, higher authorities of police force deployed female in this sector of the force, to balance the situation as a lot of female drivers were encountered around the city. “Ladies were hesitant speaking to male wardens. Now I inspect and see the licenses of female drivers and they are more comfortable.”
Police strives to maintain a livable and peaceful environment in a city. Yet in the year 2022, 4 police constables have embraced martyrdom while many remained injured. In a conflict zone being in police force is a tough job for men, a female has to worry about a lot more issues.
Advocate Memoona Baloch is a human rights activist in Quetta. She emphasized on the importance of awareness in the society about women empowerment, which is the only tool that can bring peace over conflict. She believes society is evolving gradually. “We live in a tribal society; job opportunities for females are already finite, women are mostly told to go into professions where male interaction is less, but because of conflict in the zone, opportunities are more limited. Conflict is coming in the way of empowerment of women. Yet many girls are seen coming into bold professions, like law, police force and banking”, said Memoona.
Quetta is a city where several cultures are diffused together, people are not used to of watching women in all fields. Nazia said, “Honestly, at first, people behaved odd, they didn’t cooperate with us. Gradually, the public is becoming more accepting. They have started accepting us female constables as a part of this force and now talk to us more gently.”
Nazia further stated that IG police and the whole department is very cooperative. They respect us and provide the female staff of police with a lot of relief to begin a new norm of women empowerment. I encourage female of our society to stop being reluctant and get recruited in their desired fields.