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.


Britain and EU spar over Brexit as clock ticks down

Updated 21 September 2019

Britain and EU spar over Brexit as clock ticks down

  • Britain says a deal is possible
  • Ireland says not close to a deal

LONDON/BRUSSELS : Britain said on Friday a Brexit deal with the European Union could be reached at a summit next month, but EU member Ireland said the sides were far from agreement and London had not yet made serious proposals.
Three years after Britons voted to leave the EU, hopes of a breakthrough over the terms of its departure have been stoked in recent days by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying the shape of a deal is emerging and European Commission President Juncker saying agreement is possible.
But diplomats say the two sides are split over London’s desire to remove the Irish border “backstop” from the divorce deal struck by Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, and then work out a replacement in coming years.
The backstop is an insurance policy to keep the 500-km (300-mile) border between Ireland, which will remain in the EU, and the British province of Northern Ireland open after Brexit.
“We both want to see a deal,” British Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said after talks in Brussels with EU negotiator Michel Barnier. “The meeting overran, which signals we were getting into the detail.”
“There is a still a lot of work to do but there is a common purpose to secure a deal,” Barclay said, adding that Juncker and Johnson also both wanted a deal.
Leaving the EU would be Britain’s biggest shift in trade and foreign policy for more than 40 years and deprive the 28-nation bloc of one of its biggest economies. The EU has set a deadline for a deal to be reached by Oct. 31.
British parliament has rejected the deal May agreed with the EU. Johnson has said he wants to secure an amended deal at an EU summit on Oct. 17-18 but that Britain will leave the bloc if that is not possible. He will meet European Council Donald Tusk at the United Nations in New York next week.
Ireland is crucial to any Brexit solution. Unless the Irish border backstop is removed or amended, Johnson will not be able to win parliamentary approval but Ireland and the EU are unwilling to sign a deal without a solution to the border.
The EU fears a hard border could cause unrest in Northern Ireland and undermine the fragile peace provided by a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence between Irish nationalists seeking a united Ireland, and the British security forces and pro-British “unionists.”
The Withdrawal Agreement that was agreed with the EU last November says the United Kingdom will remain in a customs union “unless and until” alternative arrangements are found to avoid the return of border controls in Ireland.
The British government, worried the backstop will trap it in the EU’s orbit for years to come, wants to remove it and find a solution before December 2020, when a planned transition period ends.
The British pound fell from a two-month high after the Financial Times reported Johnson had told colleagues he did not expect to reach a full “legally operable” deal next month.
One EU official said Britain’s proposals are not enough to replace the backstop.
“As it stands, it is unacceptable,” the official said. “If they don’t really change their approach, we are at an impasse.”
The European Commission said in a memo that Britain’s plans “fall short of satisfying all the objectives” of finding an alternative to the backstop, Sky News reported.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the mood music had improved and that both sides wanted a deal but that they were not close to an agreement.
“There is certainly a lot of commentary now and some of it is spin I think, in the context of where we are,” he told the BBC. “We need to be honest with people and say that we’re not close to that deal right now.”
“Everybody needs a dose of reality here, there is still quite a wide gap between what the British government have been talking about in terms of the solutions that they are proposing, and I think what Ireland and the EU will be able to support.”
Britain said on Thursday it had shared documents with Brussels setting out ideas for a Brexit deal, but an EU diplomat described them as a “smokescreen” that would not prevent a disorderly exit on the Oct. 31 departure date.
Coveney, Ireland’s second most powerful politician, said a no-deal could lead to civil unrest.
“Trade across 300 road crossings that has created a normality and a peace that is settled on the island of Ireland for the last 20 years, that now faces significant disruption,” he said. “That is what we’re fighting for here.