Trailblazing woman mechanic changes wheels, oil and stereotypes in Egypt

ESNA, Egypt (Thomson Reuters Basis) – Lekaa El Kholy’s father utilized to rub a minimal blackened engine oil on to her facial area and convey to her to dress in overalls when they went to the Egyptian metropolis of Luxor to invest in provides for his vehicle fix workshop.

It was his way of showing folks his daughter was a mechanic just like him, and of confronting deep-rooted beliefs about gender roles that hold all but a few ladies out of typically male professions in socially conservative Egypt.

Now, El Kholy, 24, has been fixing autos for additional than a ten years in the village of Esna and has captured countrywide notice – with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi hailing her as the Upper Egypt region’s first feminine motor mechanic.

This thirty day period, she opened her own auto maintenance centre in close by Luxor and is also assisting other aspiring feminine mechanics enter the male-dominated trade, specifically these facing social or family members pressures over their profession preference.

“It’s not only about attaining my profession goals but also offering a serving to hand to other females who are struggling with social issues to turn into mechanics,” El Kholy reported in her office, her late father’s portrait standing on a desk at the rear of her.

She explained she experienced been lucky simply because her father, who died in 2016, had supported her because she first showed a passion for the profession at the age of 11.

“I’m confident there are numerous other women of all ages out there who are passionate about the task but never locate enough support and assistance,” El Kholy told the Thomson Reuters Basis.

In accordance to the 2015 International Gender Hole Index, Egypt ranks small in gender fairness in comparison to other nations.

The Index, which actions disparities concerning adult men and women of all ages throughout nations around the world, rated Egypt 136th out of 145 nations and observed that only about a quarter of Egyptian girls have paid employment in contrast with practically 80% of gentlemen.

El Kholy has been organising schooling workshops for females fascinated in car or truck servicing in her hometown and in Tanta, a city north of Cairo wherever she made use of to do the job in a mend enterprise.

So much, about 20 women of all ages have taken portion and El Kholy stated she planned to use some of them at her new centre.

“From my schooling expertise with men and ladies, I can confidently say that ladies are much far better mainly because they are a lot more passionate about something new they do,” she claimed.

A single of El Kholy’s pupils, Nourhan Ahmed, 25, is by now performing at the automobile upkeep centre.

Ahmed reported she experienced usually liked automobiles and preferred to discover about motor vehicle routine maintenance – either for a attainable work or for when she buys individual auto – but experienced never been able to uncover programs aimed at females.

Alongside her initiatives to assist other women enter the occupation, El Kholy has bold plans for her organization and hopes to open up several branches in Egypt and even start a brand name that can be franchised abroad.

“This is a desire for me and I feel that I will accomplish it 1 day,” she reported.

Reporting by Menna A. Farouk Enhancing by Helen Popper. Be sure to credit history the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that addresses the life of men and women all-around the planet who battle to reside freely or rather. Stop by