Meet Rabbi Apa, the only woman car mechanic in Dhaka

Within the past few years, women have participated in job sectors more than ever. However, ‘Mechanic Rabbi Apa’ is an exception to it all. Breaking fences in the field of mechanic and automobile workshops, Rabeya Sultana is the only female mechanic working for CARE Bangladesh.

Started from the bottom but she’s here

Rabeya Sultana Rabbi could never attend her S.S.C examination. Growing up with extreme poverty, Rabeya Sultana learnt to take care of herself from a very young age. Her father could barely afford for his eight-member family.

The young drop out student is now earning approximately 550 dollars per month and she can comfortably afford for her husband, her young son and her parents as well. Her husband was very supportive throughout her journey and helped her pursue her career by co-parenting.

Source: Arab News

Rabbi Apa’s journey

Rabbi Apa initially started training as a driver with other female members, but she was not confident enough to drive around highways. She then took the decision to take up her career as a motor mechanic.

In an interview with Arab News, she mentions how girls in Bangladesh hardly come to a profession which is heavily dominated by men in general. However, she has always been as a kind, friendly and hardworking employee. Selim Sheikh, manager for transport at CARE Bangladesh mentions how proud he is of her. She took in the knowledge of a motor mechanic in a short period of time. He also mentions how she is always enthusiastic to learn new techniques.

Rabeya dreams of opening her own garage in her hometown and give chances to others to pursue their career with motor mechanics. She wants to help her son achieve her dreams, and help him succeed in life.

May we have more Rabbi Apas help the society construct itself into a positive space for all women.

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Transgender women in Bangladesh can now run for the parliament!

For the first time in the political history of Bangladesh, transgenders who identify as women will be able to run for elections. This is a step towards advancing their place in the society and providing much needed recognition from the government.

What place do they hold in the parliament?

The transgender community can now compete for the 50 seats reserved for women in upcoming elections in the National Parliament. According to various news sources, the ruling party is willing to allow at least one MP from the transgender community.

Eight members of the transgender community were confirmed on the Awami League party ballot, which is still the first and only political party in the nation to allow this. This decision brings a touch of hope and celebrates diversity.

Why was this recognition necessary?

Bangladesh as a state itself might reject the regulations of radical Islam, but it has a long way to go to accept the LGBTQ community.

“We are citizens of Bangladesh but we have no representation in the parliament. There is no one from our community who can understand and raise our concerns. That is why we are running for the seats.”

Said Falguni, one of the aspirants, in an interview with Dhaka Tribune

In Bangladesh, there are controversies and laws against same sex marriage and consensual relationship between LGBTQ+ members. However, if the transgender community can represent themselves these would be a step in improving their conditions and moving towards more just laws and equitable policies. There is a general lack of awareness and stigma. Transgender rights, correct identification and acknowledgement of sexuality and gender is a huge issue. LGBTQ folks face an intensely hostile environment in their homes and society, often, compromising their safety.

Out of 160 million people, an estimated ten thousand to half a million belong to the transgender community. The engagement of transgender citizens competing for a seat under the National Parliament might bring in much needed changes.

In our own homes, it’s time we address the word “hijra” as a gender not a word to demean a community who have equal rights and freedom as any other gender of this society.