In Pakistan, first woman police chief represents step toward empowerment

When Syeda Ghazala joined the police force two decades ago, she never dreamed that one day she would head a police station staffed by roughly 100 police officers—all men. Her recent promotion is part of efforts by the local police to increase the number of women in the force and in positions of authority. In a country where women have traditionally not worked outside the home and face widespread discrimination, the appointment represents a significant step for women’s empowerment.

The mindset of people is changing gradually, and now they [have] started to consider women in leading roles. My husband opposed my decision to join the police force 20 years ago.

Syeda Ghazala, first woman police chief in Pakistan

Running a station is a high-profile job in the Pakistani police, one that requires the officer to constantly interact with the public and fellow officers. It’s also a key path to advancement. Senior police officer Abdul Khaliq Sheikh, said he and others in the top brass hope Ghazala’s appointment leads to more women joining the force. The police force is also training the first batch of female commandos, a group of 44 women going through a physically intensive course involving rappelling from towers or helicopters and shooting an assortment of weapons.

Our society accepts only stereotype roles for women. There is a perception that women are suitable only for particular professions like teaching.

Abdul Khaliq Sheikh, senior police officer