Gulzar Bano


Gulzar Bano was the first Female Secretary, Federal Government, Pakistan. She was in her Master’s course (English literature) at Government College, Lahore, when she took the CSS examination in 1950 and topped the list of successful candidates. Born in 1927 in one of the Bastis of Jalandhar district, Gulzar Bano spent her childhood in Uttar Pradesh, where her father was an officer in the Indian Forest Service. Sent to Lahore soon after independence she did BA honours from the Kinnaird College. With that success began her experience of society’s anti-woman biases. She always felt that her relegation to the second position in the final list of CSS qualifiers was due to the viva voce board’s lack of confidence in women’s talents. A greater shock was the discovery that women were barred from joining foreign service, police and the elite CSP cadre. So she had to be contented with Audit and Accounts Service. Far more serious was her male colleagues’ and superiors’ reluctance to reconcile to her presence and her right to promotion. Several attempts were made by her seniors to persuade her to abandon her job and take up work appropriate for women, such as teaching, but she stuck to her rights and rose to be the first woman federal secretary.