SIDON, Lebanon: When Sahar Hadraj replied to a social media post advertising a job at a local gas station - a sector that in Lebanon is dominated by men - she never imagined herself handling the pumps.
Shortly before, Hadraj, who has a degree in English language from the Lebanese University, had stopped her studies in nursing school, feeling that “getting educated in Lebanon leads to unemployment.”
When she saw the ad, she breathed a sigh of relief, assuming the position would be managerial.
And so she was surprised when she arrived for her first day and discovered she would be working the station’s forecourt - filling cars with fuel, inflating tires, serving customers.
“In the beginning, it was difficult for my family and me, as this career is considered a man’s job,” Hadraj told The Daily Star.
Now, however, after over a month in the position, she has found herself settling into the role.
Hadraj is one of the four women who work at the Sharaf Eddine gas station on the Zahrani-Nabatieh highway in south Lebanon.
The station’s owner, Jamal Sharaf Eddine, told The Daily Star he chooses to employ women “because they are often marginalized in Lebanon.”
“In the West women drive trucks and handle heavy machinery,” Eddine continued.
“Women can do men’s work.”
Last week, while many people around the world celebrated International Women’s Day, Hadraj marked it in her own way, filling the car for a man named Khalil - a reversal of the roles many people might expect to see played out in such a situation.
“We as men are used to the notion that women were created to manage the household. However, they deal with the same difficulties in life as men do,” Khalil said as Hadraj filled the car.
For Hadraj, it is vital that women receive more diverse job opportunities, as it leads them to gain greater respect.
“Women, wherever they are, can be as successful as men,” she said. - Writing by Emily Lewis