Syeda Ghazala made history when she became the first-ever chief of police in Pakistan’s largest city.
In 2011, Pakistan was rated the third-most dangerous country for women. Karachi still ranks as one of the top 10 most violent cities in the world. Now, Ghazala manages a 100-unit police force, made up of only men, in Clifton, a Karachi suburb with a population of more than 18 million people.
“My husband opposed my decision to join the police force 20 years ago,” Ghazala told the Associated Press. The 44-year-old mother earned the highest score during the training promotion, besting her male colleagues. She says of the new job, “It was a big challenge. I was a little bit hesitant to accept it.”
The promotion is evidence of a larger shift in thinking about women in leadership across Pakistan. Senior leadership in Ghazala’s unit want to see more women joining the force in non-traditional roles. “Our society accepts only stereotype roles for women,” senior police officer Abdul Khaliq Sheik said. “There is a perception that women are suitable only for particular professions like teaching.”
According to the Associated Press, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, women do run police forces, but only in stations specifically designed to help female victims.
Media Resources: Jezebel, 6/15/14; Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 1/14/13; NBC News, 6/15/14