POST TIME: 4 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Salma Khatun, the first female loco master in Bangladesh

Salma Khatun, the first female loco master in Bangladesh

You do not expect to see a woman working as a locomaster. There is a perception among people that women cannot perform the tasks associated with the position. But here is Salma Khatun, daughter of a marginal farmer and a homemaker, who has broken the taboo with aplomb.

The country's first female loco-master, Salma, joined the Bangladesh Railway (BR) as assistant loco master in 2004. She is married, and her spouse works in the judge's court.

"I never thought I would do a railway job someday. I always wanted to do something special for women. When I see a railway job advertisement, I applied and appeared for the exam.

I was selected and joined the challenging job in 2004.

Many people came to visit me at the time of training. When I first  started driving the train, people came to see me. I am proud of my job," said Salma.

‘My family members help me and encourage me. My husband helps me too. I have many amusing experiences. Many people wish to take a selfie with me," she added.

But not everything was rosy for Salma. She was a student of the HSC class when she started doing the job. But she did not give up her education. She studied up to Class V in Aurjuna Government Primary School. She completed her SSC from Aurjuna Mohsin High School and HSC from Kumudini Government College. She completed her master’s degree from Kobi Nazrul College in Dhaka in 2015.

She got the BSS and BEd degrees from the same educational institution.

Currently, there are at least 15 female drivers working in the railway in Bangladesh. Salma is their inspiration. "I encourage women to come to this profession. But they should come here with a strong mindset. Gender balance in the profession should be maintained," Salma told The Independent.

Salma dreams of driving the first inaugural train over the mighty bridge of Padma in 2021 and has been preparing herself for the purpose.

"Women have to face a lot of hurdles in their professions. The male mindset doesn't connect women with every profession. Nobody likes to see a woman driving a train. I faced hurdles at the workplace too. But of late, the typical mindset has been slowly changing," she said.

Upazila chairman Abdul Halim said that they are proud of Salma and the job she does. He wished her success in her professional field.