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.
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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Like many patriarchal societies, girls need permission to do basic things in life– to stay out after dark, to get a job, to make their own career choices. In this context, there are still women who are pushing boundaries and venturing out on their own. One big change is that more woman are now travelling and seeking adventure.
Among many things, Wander Woman is a travel company– by women, just for women. Wander Woman started out as a Facebook group but is growing into so much more. The group currently has 10,030 members.
Wander Woman comes with one sole purpose – bringing all women together in one platform to share the love for travelling around the world.
Travelers post their tips, ask for help to navigate blocks in their journey and share their stories. Solo travelers can also coordinate with each other, form groups for short trips based on common interests.
Sabira Mehrin is the founder of Wonder Woman. She is full of life and full of determination. She is trying to bring women together, help them travel and see the world, while creating a community of cool explorers that help each other.
She is also efficient. She has to figure out how to deal with her biggest challenge in administering a facebook group and keeping the group authentic. “I was very picky! I only wanted member with authentic profile, with legitimate work portfolios- and it was extremely hard to administer the group. So I made the best use of all my time- in traffics, and such.”
Why Wander Woman?
In a little more than 12 months, Sabira Mehrin has turned a small Facebook group into a full-fledged start-up. But what made her want to create this group in the first place?
“When I was a student in IBA, I used to participate in global business competitions and conferences. All of them were organized by big companies. So whenever I traveled, I never faced any kind of hassle in the process of purchasing tickets and all. All of these were done by the professionals.
But when I got into job and started planning a self-funded trip for myself for the first time, I realized I only knew few people who could give me the right kind of information. Also, while researching, I came across very few Bangladeshi travel bloggers. So I saw the lack of information, the discrimination, and saw that the issues were mostly for the women. And I thought, how can I create a platform that makes it easier for women to travel? And my best friend gave me the idea to start the group- just to assess the situation. I opened the group and added 200 people. And from there it started to grow, and it didn’t stop!”
Why do people trust Wander Woman?
There are a lot of factors at play when it comes to woman and travel- including safety, reliability and of course, trust issues. However, the closed nature of the group, the direct interactions and careful moderation has led to a thriving community with trust.
When we asked this question, Sabira exclaimed with genuine surprise, “I don’t know! They just do! I have spoken to so many parents about permissions and stuff, and they all seem to come around after talking to me! And I feel privileged to be blessed with this type of trust. So if anyone has trouble getting permission for solo trips, just show your parents our group! Let them see that it is safe, and we will do our best to give you the best experience possible!”
What’s not next is a typical, commercial agency. Sabira keeps that in mind as she finds partners to help her build the community. “When we first started out, a lot of travel agencies reached out to us. But I soon figured they were all being very commercial. We would prefer if we could find people who were more interested in building the community with us.
Sabira has big plans for Wander woman for 2019. “Wander woman got registered”, she said. “We want to make travelling more accessible to the students in near future. And I know that people believe that wander woman is a little too niche, but I refuse to compromise the quality of our packages. So we might not reach out to the the mass market just yet. Let’s see what happens!”
Sabira is an avid traveller. So when we asked her for tips she said, “Solo travelling is about two things- courage and planning. You don’t have to be fearful, necessarily, but you need to be cautious. So while some places are safer than others, you can still make the best of your situation by being smart. I have come across so many helpful people, help was coming from unexpected places whenever I was in a pinch. That was really surprising for me.”