Since picking up a wrench as one of the first female car mechanics in Pakistan, Uzma Nawaz has faced two common reactions: shock and surprise, and then a bit of respect.
The 24-year-old spent years overcoming entrenched gender stereotypes and financial hurdles en route to earning a mechanical engineering degree and getting a job with an auto repairs garage in Multan.
“I took it up as a challenge against all odds and the meagre financial resources of my family,” Nawaz told AFP.
“When they see me doing this type of work they are really surprised.”
Women have long struggled for their rights in Pakistan and, especially in rural areas, are often encouraged to marry young and devote themselves entirely to family over career.
“No hardship could break my will and motivation,” she says proudly.
The sacrifices cleared the way for steady work at a Toyota dealership in Multan following graduation, she adds.
Just a year into the job, and promoted to general repairs, Nawaz moves with the ease of a seasoned pro around the dealership’s garage, removing tyres from raised vehicles, inspecting engines and handling a variety of tools — a sight that initially jolted some customers.