In the midst of a small industrial area, not too far from downtown Khartoum, rows of cars line up awaiting maintenance and repairs. There, I found Sahar Ibrahim El Baraka, 21, having her lunch under a tree among five young men. They all happen to be, automotive mechanics, including Sahar El Baraka, who seemed to fit in naturally wearing her mechanics’ uniform, except for the scarf on her head that set her apart.

Sahar El Baraka, who studied mechanics in a technical institution in Khartoum, appeared confident doing her job, as she was getting ‘down and dirty’ repairing a car’s electrical circuit failure.

The car owner was sitting having a meal with a woman street vendor named Awadiya, having an existential conversation, and talks of other countries developing, and Sudan’s speedy free fall into the unknown misfortune and abyss.

“Even though I studied mechanics, I took a break from it recently and moved towards working with electrical circuits in cars, as it is more profitable,” El Baraka tells Al Tareeq.

El Baraka lives in Soba, 22 km south of Khartoum, which means her commute is a long one – she takes three buses to work, which is located in the almost-central area of El Deim.

However, she maintains, “I am not sacrificing anything, I am simply taking responsibility. I am taking care of my mother and younger brother. Life should be understood rationally, according to circumstances. If I am capable of working, then I must help myself and my family.”

El Baraka continues, “What makes me the happiest is that my mother, and my younger brother who is in school, are proud of me. I am dubbed bashmohandissa* in our neighborhood, and I am respected by everyone.”

“From very early on, I thought of how my life could have been different. After one year in high school, I was transferred to the technical institute – I knew it was the way for me to go.”

El Baraka loves her profession, she says, “I am really passionate and happy about my job – since I started in 2011. I hope and plan to take big steps towards my future. At the end of this year, I am preparing myself to study for the required exams to study mechanics in university,” and she adds, “It took me so long to take this step because of finances, but I will find a way, very soon!”

At the same time, Sahar studies diligently, and surprisingly, does not find juggling both responsibilities stressful, “When I started working, I would attend the institution early in the morning and by 2 PM, and I would be at my job. But now, I work from 10 AM to 7 PM, except for Fridays. It affected my life, especially socially, but I am used to it now.”

It is safe to say that El Baraka has rich experiences accumulated through working in different spaces, “I worked in a company for about seven months, and I moved around a lot as a mechanic and an electrical mechanic. Everyone I worked with, including my current workmates, is wonderful and good people.”

In a society that limits women’s chances in working in particular fields and professions, El Baraka paved the way with confidence, “I have adjusted to my work and its environment. Sometimes, when customers come by, they are taken aback by seeing me here – but, when they see me immersed in my work, no one declines me fixing their cars just because a woman.”

“I feel like I need more women to work in this field, which I love, and I hope to see lots of them. I tell every young woman who wants to do this: it is not impossible, society’s limitation hinders everyone everywhere; in school, in university, and at any other job,” adds El Baraka.

Her dream is to see more women work jobs that have been classified as ‘man work’ according to traditional gender roles.

In fact, not too far from her, we meet her colleague and workmate, Maria Abdulrahman, 23, who specialized in automotive electrical systems. Currently, she works in cleaning and repairing headlights.

An Omdurmanian, Abdulrahman has worked in electrical mechanic repairs since her graduation in 2011, “I work in a normal environment – there are no reasons to be afraid. My income covers my own allowance and helping my family, and I hope to improve myself.”

She continues, “It is quite simple; just as how your parents worked hard to raise you, there comes a time of exchanging roles – you have to do the same and help them and be responsible as well.”

“My mother and my sister played a major role in getting me where I am now – and my brother signed me up to attend the technical institute.”

Abdulrahman has to wake up at 6 AM every morning, except for Friday. She helps around the house with some chores, and then leaves for work – which is quite far from her home – to start at 9 AM and clock out at 6 PM.

“My peers treat me well, and I am paid just as much as they are. Bonuses are earned when you put in the effort,” she mentions.

Abdulrahman speaks on her gender in the workplace, “To be a woman working among men, mostly, does not affect me at all. And I call on girls to not be scared at all, and to take over every field of profession they believe they can do – even if it is dominated by men.” Moreover, she advises, “As long as you are confident in your abilities and can take care of your life, there is nothing to be afraid of.”

Currently, she is planning to improve and advance her skills as an electrical mechanic, “I am not saying my current job is temporary, but I would say it is my first step in the field. I hope to continue my studies in Sudan University, soon – I am very ambitious about my future.”

*senior engineer (colloquial)٢٠١٧٠٢٢٧_١٣٠٥١٤-300x183.jpg٢٠١٧٠٢٢٧_١٣٠٥١٤-95x95.jpgAltareeqReportsIn the midst of a small industrial area, not too far from downtown Khartoum, rows of cars line up awaiting maintenance and repairs. There, I found Sahar Ibrahim El Baraka, 21, having her lunch under a tree among five young men. They all happen to be, automotive mechanics, including...صحيفة اخبارية سودانية