Bangladesh’s first female motor mechanic

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Rabeya Sultana Rabbi
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Rabeya Sultana Rabbi
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Rabeya Sultana Rabbi
Updated 11 July 2019
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Bangladesh’s first female motor mechanic

  • Rabbi said her dream is to have her own motor workshop when she is financially able to do so

DHAKA: Breaking gender stereotypes in a male-dominated society, 33-year-old Rabeya Sultana Rabbi works as Bangladesh’s first female motor mechanic at the Care Bangladesh aid agency in Dhaka.

Having dropped out of school at grade 10 because she could not afford an exam fee of $15, Rabbi currently makes $550 per month.

She said her salary can comfortably provide for her husband, their 4-year-old son and her parents. Rabbi is seen as an inspiration by many of her fellow countrywomen. 

“Initially, I got training as a driver with some other girls. But I was afraid of driving on highways, so I decided to take up my career as a motor mechanic,” she told Arab News. “Girls in our country hardly come to this profession.”

Rabbi was born in a village in Dinajpur district to poor vegetable vendor Abdul Aziz Farazi, and was the youngest of six siblings.

“My father’s little daily income allowed only one cooked meal per day. We had to sleep with half-filled bellies as my mother needed to save food for the next day,” Rabbi said. 

“During my childhood, I had to watch my mother starving for days … My father had to go through hardships to make ends meet. It was at that time that I vowed to improve our family’s condition.”  

Rabbi said her husband Ekramul Haque fully supported her career choice. “He agreed to babysit our only child so I could follow my dream,” she added. 

Rabbi lauded the approach, attitude, kindness and consideration of her male colleagues. “It’s extremely challenging work for a woman in a country like Bangladesh, but I overcame all the obstacles and became what I am today. All you need is determination, talent and tolerance,” she said. 

Selim Sheikh, manager for transport at Care Bangladesh, said: “Rabbi is a quick learner and adopted motor mechanical knowledge in a short period of time. She has never refused any hard work. We’re proud of her.”

Prof. Ishrat Shamim of Dhaka University said: “It’s an eye opener. Apart from the success of women in the ready-made garments sector, a career as a female motor mechanic may open up a new vista of opportunity for courageous women like Rabbi in the future.”

Shamim, who is also president of the Center for Women and Children’s Studies, added that there should be motor workshops fully run by women to encourage more females to enter the profession and contribute to the country’s economy.  “Such efforts can ensure better earnings for women and boost socioeconomic development,” Shamim said.  

Rabbi said her dream is to have her own motor workshop when she is financially able to do so.


Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

Updated 14 min 46 sec ago
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Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

  • At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week
  • South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season

GAUHATI, India: The death toll in monsoon flooding in South Asia has risen to 152 as millions of people and animals continue to face the brunt in three countries, officials said Saturday.
At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week. A dozen have been killed in Bangladesh.
Shiv Kumar, a government official in Assam, said 10 rare one-horned rhinos have died in Kaziranga National Park since the Brahmaputra River burst its banks, flooding the reserve.
Some 4.8 million people spread over 3,700 villages across the state are still affected by the floods, though the frequency of rains has decreased in the past 24 hours, the Assam Disaster Response Authority said. More than 2.5 million have also been hit by flooding in India’s Bihar state.
Amid the flooding, 20-year-old Imrana Khatoon delivered her first baby on a boat in floodwaters early Friday while on her way to a hospital in Assam’s flooded Gagalmari village, locals said. The woman and the newborn were brought back to their home without getting to the hospital.
Community health worker Parag Jyoti Das, who visited the family, said there were no post-delivery health complications. However, the mother and the child were moved to a hospital on a boat to the nearby town of Jhargaon because of unhygienic conditions due to floodwaters, Das said. The health center in Khatoon’s village was flooded and closed.
“I would have felt happier if the baby’s father was here,” said Khatoon, whose husband works in a hotel in the southern state of Kerala.
More than 147,000 people have taken shelter in 755 government-run camps across Assam, officials said.
Authorities warned they would take action against suppliers who were reported to be distributing poor quality rice and other essentials to marooned people and inmates of temporary shelters at some places.
“We have ordered the arrest of those unscrupulous elements supplying substandard materials and playing with the lives of the affected people,” said Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam’s finance minister.
In Nepal, the Home Ministry said about 36,728 families were affected by the monsoon rains. The flooding and mudslides forced some 13,000 families to flee their homes.
In at least two of Nepal’s districts, helicopters were used to transport emergency food supplies, while other transport means were being used to move tents and other supplies to the victims.
South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season.