Changing Narrative of Gender Equality: Story of Sylvia, Kaduna Female Mechanic
By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna
Being one of the two women in the midst of the over 264 Local Area Mechanics (LAMs), in Kaduna State was not enough to deter Sylvia Clement, from becoming a mechanic.
In a world that is seen as men’s, where women are relegated to the background when it comes to leadership selection, responsibilities and opportunities. Also stereotyping in terms of what gender should be responsible to take certain roles in the society.
Sylvia, a mother of five, sacrificed her farm for one month to enable her gain the knowledge that would allow her help people in her community have sustained portable water.
“I just felt the communities here needed mechanics to be taking care of these projects that people are donating to us.” She said.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Kaduna State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency and the UK government co-funded SHAWN II project, trained over 264 LAMs in 22 LGAs in the State between 2019 and 2020 as part of their sustainability plan for Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in the state.
In eight months, Sylvia, restored over ten boreholes back to life in different communities within her Kujama Ward.
Mr. Moses Micah, WASH Committee Secretary in Ugwan Mission community, Chikun LGA, noted that Sylvia, is the best thing that has happened to their community because of her commitment towards the repairs of the hand pump borehole in his community, adding “our borehole no longer have to wait for days any time there is problem”.
Sylvia’s passion was borne out of the fact that in the last few years, donor agencies have donated boreholes in different communities in her Kujama Ward and the entire LGA, but after few months of use, these boreholes will collapse and would be abandoned.
The 35 years old mother made up her mind to be trained as the only woman in the midst of men as a mechanic in second batch of the LAM training in July 2020, without minding what people think about her.
“Though it was not easy for me because it is seen as men’s job, but I knew I could do it and use it as an opportunity to make impact in my community. Because I know once I become a mechanic I will takeover the repairs of boreholes in my community and other surrounding communities, this was what steered my passion”. she said.
Most boreholes sunk in the LGA ended up being abandoned because of lack of maintenance after few months of use and the communities are helpless because they can’t even get a mechanic to fix them even if they have the money to do it until Sylvia became mechanic, according to the WASHCom secretary.
Apart from her joy of restoring portable water to the communities and reducing the stress of having to go a long journey in search of water from her people, Sylvia’s economic power also increased as she now contribute financially to the running of her home and also support her husband with the proceeds of her mechanic work.
Florence Manshop, who is the Coordinator of WASH in Chikun LGA, said the good thing about Sylvia, is that she is very committed to her work and always ready to learn more and that everybody including the men believed so much in her capability to discharge her duty.
“Another great inspiration for me was the other woman who is also a mechanic, she actually trained me. She was among the first set trained under this project in 2019 and any time I see her work, my interest grow and she encouraged me to learn it since I was interested so when the opportunity came in July 2020, I quickly joined.” Sylvia added.
“The good thing is that she is well supported by the community members, so whenever they have issues with their boreholes, they reach to her and she always avail herself to see that those facilities are restored within two to three days so the people can have access to portable water for their usage”. WASH Coordinator said.
She noted that though they were trained under the SHAWN II project, but their work is not limited to SHAWN facilities alone as they also repair boreholes intervention by other donors.
“We have two female LAMs amongst the twelve we have trained in this LGA, they are very active and they have passion for what they do. I see them going to another level because of their experiences and work loads in the facilities they are working on”. Mrs. Manshop added.
“I will forever be grateful to UNICEF, UKaid and RUWASSA, for giving me this opportunity not only to serve my people but to also provide me with a source of livelihood”. Sylvia said.