After two failed attempts to meet Asia’s first motor woman, Mumtaz Kazi, I finally found myself sharing space with the lady who is breaking stereotypes and setting a huge example for every woman in the nation.
When Kazi arrived in the room there was an atmosphere of belongingness. There was a subtle joy on everyone’s face and pride. She arrived before time and quickly indulged me in a chat.
Mumtaz Kazi, was in her early twenties when she started her career. Born in a middle-class family, she became the first Indian woman to drive a diesel locomotive in 2005 and since then has never looked back.
Her father was a Trunk Superintendent in the Indian Railways. She grew up in railway quarters and always had the passion to drive a train some day. In 1988, after her HSC examinations, she started pursuing a Diploma in Medical Laboratory at SNDT University. This was when she was selected for the Railway Motorman Training Program. When she gave her written examination and interview, she was the only woman in a batch of 50 students.
Now, a mother of two children, she stays in Sion and is very happy that her hardships led to nationwide recognition.
But, her journey was not like a bed of roses. In 2005, while she was driving, a young lady jumped on the track and committed suicide. Mumtaz went into severe depression after the incident. For weeks, she refused to consume solid foods, blaming herself for the travesty.
On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017, she was honored by President Pranab Mukherjee with ‘Naari Shakti’ Award. She is an inspiration to many women to reach out for their dreams even if they appear too far-fetched.