Lekaa El Kholy’s father utilized to rub a minor blackened motor oil onto her encounter and explain to her to dress in overalls when they went to the Egyptian town of Luxor to invest in supplies for his car restore workshop.
It was his way of exhibiting folks his daughter was a mechanic just like him, and of confronting deep-rooted beliefs about gender roles that preserve all but a handful of gals out of historically male professions in socially conservative Egypt.
Today, El Kholy, 24, has been fixing cars for more than a 10 years in the village of Esna and has captured nationwide interest – with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi hailing her as the Upper Egypt region’s initially female motor mechanic.
This thirty day period, she opened her individual auto upkeep centre in nearby Luxor and is also serving to other aspiring woman mechanics enter the male-dominated trade, primarily all those going through social or family members pressures more than their vocation choice.
“It’s not only about obtaining my profession goals but also offering a supporting hand to other women of all ages who are dealing with social difficulties to turn into mechanics,” El Kholy mentioned in her place of work, her late father’s portrait standing on a desk driving her.
She mentioned she experienced been lucky mainly because her father, who died in 2016, experienced supported her considering the fact that she 1st confirmed a passion for the profession at the age of 11.
“I’m absolutely sure there are several other girls out there who are passionate about the position but don’t uncover adequate aid and help,” El Kholy informed the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In accordance to the 2015 World-wide Gender Hole Index, Egypt ranks small in gender fairness in comparison to other nations.
The Index, which steps disparities concerning adult males and women of all ages across international locations, ranked Egypt 136th out of 145 nations and famous that only about a quarter of Egyptian girls have paid positions compared with just about 80% of adult men. El Kholy has been organising training workshops for women interested in car or truck upkeep in her hometown and in Tanta, a town north of Cairo the place she made use of to do the job in a restore business.
So considerably, about 20 females have taken element and El Kholy said she prepared to seek the services of some of them at her new centre.
“From my coaching encounter with guys and women of all ages, I can confidently say that women are far far better for the reason that they are additional passionate about everything new they do,” she claimed.
A person of El Kholy’s pupils, Nourhan Ahmed, 25, is currently functioning at the auto maintenance centre.
Ahmed stated she had often cherished cars and trucks and preferred to understand about auto maintenance – possibly for a doable occupation or for when she buys very own car or truck – but experienced hardly ever been able to discover programs aimed at gals.
Together with her initiatives to assist other women enter the profession, El Kholy has ambitious plans for her organization and hopes to open up a number of branches in Egypt and even launch a brand name that can be franchised overseas.
“This is a desire for me and I feel that I will realize it a person day,” she claimed.