While women world over are achieving new feats, many in Valley with orthodox thinking still confine the female folk to certain professions only. However, there are always a few who break the glass ceiling with their resilience and pave the way for future generations to aspire for more.
Emaan Aslam from Humhama, Srinagar is one such woman. The 26-year-old lady claims to be Kashmir’s first female driving instructor who in her brief stint of training career has trained more than 300 girls.
The torchbearer who started her driving school, "Steer We Go" in 2019 has an interesting story behind starting the school.
“I used to drive since I was in 11th standard. One day my friend insisted that I should help her learn to drive. Her father was ill and her family was reluctant to allow her to learn driving from a male driving instructor,” recalls the instructor.
So her friend started asking Emaan to teach her.
Though Emaan had no teaching experience, but on the persistence of her friend, the idea of opening her own driving school clicked in her mind.
“I had to struggle a lot to start it. The registration for the driving school took almost a year. I had to visit various departments for the registration process,” said Emaan.
Her friend was her first client in her newly established driving school.
The instructor was still not sure if this would be her full time job as she was doing something else.
“Watching my friend driving on the road after I trained her encouraged me to take the job permanently,” she said.
Her female trainees’ age vary from 18 to late 50s.
“I teach females above 18 years of age. Some of my clients are even nearing their 60s,” she said.
So far Emaan claims to have taught around 300 people.
“I teach from 6am to 7:30 pm. It is a 19 day course which include 3 days classes and 15-day driving lessons on road,” she said
Emaan said she has achieved more than she ever expected after starting the institute.
“Initially I used to earn Rs 7000 but with time my clientele has increased manifolds and so has my income,” she said.
Owing to her successful venture as driving instructor, Emaan has now opened a gym- The Workout Zone.
Before opening her own driving school, Emaan was working as a gym trainer.
“I was a gym instructor before the driving school happened,” Emaan said.
She said as a gym instructor she was emotionally attached to her clients and quitting her established job was not an easy task.
But now that her driving institute seems to have been established quite well, she believes she can reunite with her old fitness passion also.
The driving instructor cum gym trainer believes instead of looking for jobs one should try to create them on their own.
“Getting jobs in Kashmir is very difficult nowadays as the unemployment rate is high. Even the educated don’t get jobs these days that easily. If you somehow do get one, the pay scale is very less,” she said.
Emaan’s parents were quite supportive throughout her journey.
“There are some who get discouraged whenever they want to do something out of the box. In my case it was different. My parents, especially my father, always support me in pursuing my aspirations,” she said.