The federal government of Pakistan has included a transgender person in its workforce for the first time in history.
The Benazir Income Support Programme, a federal poverty reduction programme, has appointed a transgender person named Muhammad Zahid, also known as Nomi, as a cook in the cafeteria of its headquarters in Islamabad.
The government has made the hiring on a contingent basis, as per a notification issued by the BISP.
“It is still unbelievable I got a respectable government job on merit and now I will be able to earn money with full respect and dignity,” said Nomi, while talking to a local media publication.
Nomi, born in Faisalabad, is currently living in Bari Imam and serving in the BISP cafeteria. Despite having no degree or certificate in cooking, she cooks well and holds a passion for trying new dishes and serving them in unique styles.
“Since my childhood, I used to see how my mother was cooking and from her, I have learned to cook all dishes,” she says.
For her, this is like landing a dream job. “My appointment is an answer to those people, especially my neighbors and relatives, who believe that a person like me can only earn through illegal means,” she said.
She also talked about the difficulties she faced every day for being who she was.
“My parents have passed away… I was living with my brothers and sisters, but the attitude of my neighbors and relatives forced me to shift from there. Now, whenever I have to meet my family, I go in late hours so that no one can see me and return before dawn,” she divulged.
“I hope now people will feel proud of me rather than degrading me by calling me ‘Khusra’ and asking me to dance,” says Nomi.
The BISP Additional Director General Conditional Cash Transfers Naveed Akbar said that this was only a start. “It’s a proud moment for us that Nomi has joined our team. And it is just a beginning as we are looking forward to hiring more transgender persons,” he says.
He also said they appointed Nomi entirely on merit; she even passed a test required in the selection process.
He also said that the BISP was considering to award cash grants to the transgender community in need. It was also conducting a survey in this regard.
“Hopefully by the end of this year we will also announce more jobs for highly-qualified transgender persons who deserve higher positions,” said the AD. He also proposed that the government should introduce quota for transgender in government jobs.
The BISP has also issued a warning that any individual found guilty of harassing Nomi shall be terminated.
Via Express Tribune