The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

Remembering Zeinab Youssef, The Sudanese Lady who became an aviation engineer against all odds

Zeinab Al-Obaid Youssef was a Sudanese aviation engineer.

In fact, Zeinab was the first Sudanese woman to receive a license from the Civil Aviation Authority in the United Kingdom (UK).

Ms Al-Obaid worked for Sudan Airlines from July 1973 to May 1992, after which she returned and settled in the United Kingdom.

As it happens, during the 1960s, Sudanese culture was hostile to women who wanted to study and work in various fields regarded to be male dominions including engineering.

Zeinab however studied and worked in the fields of electronics, aviation electronics, navigation and radar.

She worked on various types of aircraft such as Boeing 707, Boeing 737 and 347, Voker 50 and Voker F27 at Sudanese Airways, Cessna aircrafts 402,404 and 208 and Bitchcraft 1900 of London South End Airport.

Zeinab, sometimes referred to as Zainab, was born in Khartoum on June 13, 1952.

She was the first daughter of Al-Abeed Youssef Ahmed Shadwan, a well-known and respected businessman in the town, and his wife was Asma Al-Abeid Ahmed Shadwan.

Both of her parents came from religious backgrounds.

She grew up in the village of Um Dawa Ban famous for Al Masid School, a large religious school for boys.

The school is where people from all over Sudan and the southern African desert send their children to study the Quran.

Ms Youssef finished her high school and is credited to the encouragement of her father, as it was customary for Sudanese girls of her age to go for marriage and stop their academic gains.

Zeinab Youssef studied Electronics Engineering at Khartoum University from 1970 to 1973.

She then worked as an aviation engineer in a wireless maintenance and repair shop.

From 1983 to 1986, she studied aviation engineering and electronics at Brunel Technical College in Bristol, UK, receiving her license from the Civil Aviation Authority.

In the 1990s, she earned a Master of Science degree in Advanced Manufacturing Systems from Kingston University.

She died on March 19 2016.

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