Four years after women were allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, Saudi women work with men at a car repair shop in Jeddah.
Saudi women entered the world of car repair after the Petroleum Express workshop located on the Red Sea coast of western Saudi Arabia decided to implement the trend of opening jobs for men and women. Different fields.
The women involved entered the field of male domination in all parts of the world not without its difficulties, certainly in the Conservative realm.
The mechanics talked about the first months at work, which caused them doubts and worries, and sometimes they were mistreated by some clients.
Kata Ahmed says an “old man” came to the workshop and ordered all the women out, saying he wanted to date a man and did not want them near his car.
“At first, it’s normal for no one to believe me because I’m a woman,” Kata explains, wearing oiled white gloves and a long blue coat.
When she struggled to learn basic things like checking engine oil and changing tires, there were times when Kata wondered if these guys were really right. “I struggled at first, coming home sad with swollen hands and crying ‘This job is not for me’. It seems that what they (men) say is true,” he says.
But as her talent and self-confidence grew, so did the clients who supported her. And she continues happily, “A while ago, a person came and said, ‘I’m so proud of you, you are our honor, you are a crown on our head.’
Promoting women’s rights at the most important points of Vision 2030, launched by Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to diversify the economy and change the image of extremism in the world.
The mechanics told AFP that they would not have started such a demanding business without her husband’s permission. Ola Flemben, 44, a mother of four, said she heard about the job at Snapshot and immediately asked her husband Rafat if he could apply for the job. He agreed and helped her prepare for the interview by teaching her the names of different vehicle parts.
After getting the job, Ola soon surpassed her husband and their 23-year-old son in skills and knowledge related to the automotive industry. “Now she has experience in different types of cars, how to carefully check them and how to change the oil. Now she is also checking my car,” says Rafat Flemben.
Thanks to the support of his family, it has become easier for Ola to handle clients in the workplace. “At first, they were very surprised that women were working in this field. They would ask us how we like this field,” she says. “This is a frequently asked question,” he adds.
Michelle, 20, was entering a workshop in her car to change engine oil when she was talking to “AFP”. Michelle admitted she was “shocked” to see a woman doing the job, but she was mostly quiet. “Until they get to this place, they have to be well trained,” he says. “Maybe they understand cars better than I do,” he laughed.
Petromin’s vice president said, “His company is confident that this initiative will encourage more women to join the automotive industry at all levels.”
The most comfortable in the Jetta Workshop initiative are female drivers in the city who find it very convenient to take their car to the place where women work. 30-year-old Angam Jitavi said, “We are comfortable with women working in cars.
“Some women are embarrassed when they interact with men and they do not know how to negotiate with men to find out what’s going on in their car. (…) For us, they argue and ask a lot.” For Jedavi, it was a dream she thought this job was impossible.
“It was my dream to join the automotive industry, but as a Saudi woman, this specialty was not available. So, when the opportunity arose, I reluctantly applied and, thank God, accepted me,” she says. Now she is studying to take a driving test and get a driver’s license in a month.
“Now I know the problems the car is facing,” says Jadhav: “If I have a problem in the middle lane, I know how to proceed.”
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