- Women are taking matters into their own hands as many are venturing into heavy-duty careers and defying odds
- Employers who were previously reluctant to hire women are now scampering for them after witnessing their skills firsthand
- Doing traditionally male jobs comes naturally to many women who just want to make a living and leave a mark
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By Farai Diza - Freelance Journalist
Some decades back, it was highly unimaginable to see a woman getting greasy under a car overhauling engines.
However, the advent of gender equality had seen women breaking down barriers by taking up jobs previously classified as 'jobs for men' and they are killing it.
The vehicle repair industry (motor mechanics) is often seen as an unfavourable working environment for women. Besides sexual harassment concerns, they encounter numerous technical challenges.
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Employers are reluctant to hire women simply because they think women lack the skills and expertise strength. Those who have been hired have proved that they are as competent and are opening up avenues for other women to venture in.
Durban woman shatters glass ceilings to become a sought-after mechanic
Memory Bere faced the same challenges when she searched for a job. Today, she is one of the top auto mechanics in Durban.
“I had always wanted to be a motor mechanic. For me it was more of a calling. But securing employment was tough, especially being a young black woman.
"Wherever I dropped my CV, employers never took me seriously. Some even asked me if I knew how an engine works. Even when I got my first job, colleagues felt I was not physically strong enough to handle the heavy engine blocks and transmissions on vehicles," she said.
Bere divulged that clients did not trust leaving their vehicles with her at first but they are now scrambling for her services.
"All women need are opportunities. I do not believe that there is anything women cannot do as long as they are given the opportunity," she said.
Policewoman makes history
Recently, Constable Thulile Gwala made waves by becoming the first female artisan at the South Africa Police Service's Eshowe Mechanical Services.
Gwala always wanted to become a mechanic and she enrolled in an electrical engineering course soon after matric. She was eventually recruited by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) as part of an apprenticeship programme.
Gwala went to do a trade test on diesel mechanics and obtained her certificate. The rest, as they say, is history.
She is making steady progress in her career and she is already imparting her skills to other women in order to open up the industry for them.
Woman makes the wheels on the bus go round and round
But women aren't just becoming motor mechanics. They are also driving heavy-duty vehicles such as cranes, buses and trucks.
When Musa Mandy Matizanadzo became a bus driver, there were misconceptions that women could not drive. Some people even refused to board female-driven buses as they feared for their lives.
However, the recent increase in the number of female drivers has changed that perception. Matizanadzo boasts two driver's licences, a Zimbabwean class two licence as well as a South African Code 14.
Commuters are now accustomed to being driven around by women and employees are treating them equally.
"The industry requires one to be tough. I am fortunate to be a very focused woman with a high self esteem. I have never believed that there is a thing called 'a male dominated field'. We are all humans with equal capacity. Women can achieve anything when opportunity arises," she said.
Highly qualified young man takes to the streets to find a job, Mzansi shows no remorse and hurls insults
Besides driving long distance cross border buses, she can also operate big machines such as well mobile cranes, forklifts and trucks. However, there have also been some lessons that she learnt on the road. She has to juggle between jobs so that she can get good money.
She drives as a freelancer and most of her employers are very impressed with her services.
"I want to be a big player in the transport industry. I do not know how far this road will take me but I am determined to go further," she said adding that she would like to inspire women to break into the heavy duty industries.
Mandy already set her mark and she undoubtedly is destined for greatness.
Young woman, 25, goes from cleaner to independent construction worker
In other inspiring Women's Month news, Mukovhe Magagula is one of the few multi-talented female constructors based in Polokwane in Limpopo province.
Briefly News reported that Magagula is a self-taught young constructor in the male-dominated industry.
”After years of struggling to find a job, I saw an opportunity in construction though I was discouraged at first,” she said.
Magagula was hired to be a cleaner at a construction company in 2018. After spending a month at the company, she started developing an interest in construction.
It was just a matter of time before she was allowed to spend time with constructors while learning some of the work.
She told Briefly News:
"My managers were impressed as I was the only woman interested in the field, I didn't mind getting my hands dirty.”
Source: Briefly News