Aisha Nadeem is making an unprecedented move: launching her career to become Pakistan’s first female jockey.
Nadeem’s love for horses goes back to her childhood days after watching her father tending the animals and preparing them for the races.
“I have been a regular at the Karachi Race Club (KRC),” Nadeem told The Express Tribune. “I had aspired to be a rider but things never worked out.
“There have been only two jockeys who are working at the KRC and both of them are brilliant. It also takes time for people to trust me with their horses since I’m a woman and the general perception is that we can’t take the pressure in a race.”
The 27-year-old believes that women’s interest in the sport is very limited and most are involved as owners. The biggest challenge for her as a female jockey was to gain the trust of the owners.
“I don’t know if I have a future with it or not but for now, I have to bear with my male counterparts who are very supportive but they also make fun of me at times.”
According to the Jockey Club of Pakistan (JCP) Secretary Brigadier Mohammed Akram Khan, the female jockeys are still unheard of in Pakistan and that it is an alien concept in the horse-racing community.
“I don’t think women would be able to deal with the pressure, the jockeys need to pull the horses and it requires a lot of labour,” he said. “As a result, they are limited to being owners and that’s about it.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2011.