Rana Alshami | 6 March 2017
In Gaza, the role of women is simple; they become wives, bare children and tend to the domestic well-being of the household. One woman, however, decided that such a life is not for her. Her name is Salwa Srour and she was born in Gaza. She is unmarried and a graduate with qualifications in media and public relations. Salwa is the first female bus driver in Gaza.
In 2005 Salwa’s sister, Sajeda, opened a kindergarten. She had many problems with the male bus drivers who were transporting her students to and from the kindergarten. Because of these problems, many parents decided to withdraw their children from Sajeda’s kindergarten. Salwa didn’t want to see the kindergarten closed so she offered her services as a bus driver to save the school.
“Women can do anything and work in any field as long as it’s not against religion or harming anyone.”
She was confident in herself and her abilities to be a good driver and knew she could do the job as well as any man. Salwa insisted on breaking the taboo and becoming the first woman bus driver in Gaza.
Salwa began riding with one of the male bus drivers to learn the routes and addresses of the children’s homes. Calls were made to all the other bus drivers, explaining that their services were no longer required due to the problems they had caused. They were thanked and released.
Five years have passed with Salwa as the bus driver for her sister’s kindergarten. Unfortunately, society didn’t fail to notice a woman driving a bus instead of a man. People stared and talked but Salwa continued on and chose to ignore others’ opinions. Salwa was taught by her mother, who worked in the heath sector, that a woman is equal to a man in every capacity. She instilled in Salwa a sense of independence and confidence that drove Salwa on to master her skills in driving. Salwa says she is ready to welcome a society that views men and women as equals. Sometimes men will stare at her but Salwa returns their gaze with pride and confidence.
“So I am a woman. This close minded society tells you that I can’t do this job. Customs and traditions put this idea into your heads.”
A lady once told Salwa that her courage is empowering and her confidence is an inspiration. Salwa’s leaves a message to the women of Gaza and the rest of the world; “don’t be forced to do something you don’t want to do and don’t be controlled by traditions. Go forward and take what you want in life. No one is superior to anyone else. We are all equals.”