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Making inroads in male-dominated fields

Written by  Memory Kutengule
Doreen Gogoya grinding a piece of metal - Pic by Memory Kutengule Doreen Gogoya grinding a piece of metal - Pic by Memory Kutengule

Blantyre, April 14, 2018: Somepeople consider welding as a preserve for men. But one Doreen Gogoya is making inroads in the male-dominated trade to prove the chauvinists wrong.

At 21, she has chosen the welding career that generally involves heating metal pieces with electricity or flame to join them into a desired product.

If not handled carefully, the fire sparks may cause eye and skin burns to the welder.

Gogoya narrates that she completed her Malawi School Certificate of Education at Ndirande Hill Secondary School in June, 2016 and passed with 29 points.

“However, I could not enroll into any college due to lack of financial support.

“Instead of wallowing in self-pity following my predicament, I got inspired by the challenges and ventured into this male-dominated field,” Gogoya says.

She adds that, in earnest, her welding life journey started in 2017 after World Vision Malawi (WVM) introduced Action for Adolescents and Youth Programme aimed at empowering youths with vocational and entrepreneurial skills.

Through the programme, young people from various youth clubs were trained as mentors in vocational and entrepreneurial skills so that they would later impart the same to others.

Doreen Gogoya at work - Pic by Memory Kutengule

The mentors were introduced to formation of village savings and loans groups popularly known as Banki Mkhonde, among other things.

Gogoya who belongs to Matapata Youth Club became one of the beneficiaries under the vocational and entrepreneurial component which mainly focuses on welding, tailoring, carpentry and joinery.

“I was the only female among men that chose to venture into welding as a career,” says Gogoya who hails from Katundu Village in Traditional Authority (TA) Chimaliro’s area in Thyolo District.

“I was motivated by people who are already in the welding industry that this is a rewarding career.

“As such, I wanted to generate more money within a short period of time to enroll for tertiary education to further sharpen my vocational skills,” she explains.

Currently, Gogoya and two fellow club members, namely, Richard Chinyama and Patrick Mlande, are on six-month attachment to Mafaiti Arc Welding Shop at Goliati Trading Centre in the district.

Barely a few weeks into the internship, she is able to make doorframes, burglar bars, braai stands, window frames and steel hoes, among other things.

At present, Gogoya says, the trio has secured 10 reliable customers whose orders will see them make K50, 000 per day.

“My intention is that l should later open my own shop and make enough money to enable me pursue further studies in college,” says Gogoya, the firstborn in a family-of-five.

Matapata Youth Club chairperson Tamandani Tikalowa hails Gogoya for making the bold decision to venture into the male dominated welding field.

“I was perplexed at first when she showed interest in welding because, much as the career is rewarding, it is dangerous because of its intricacies.

“But I’m now convinced and impressed with her prowess. In fact, she is now our role model,” Tikalowa says.

Mafaiti Arc Welding Shop proprietor Horace Mafaiti says he is impressed with Gogoya’s hardworking spirit and dedication to duty.

He says out of the eight youths he has been working with in welding as apprentices through the WVM mentorship programme since 20l2, Gogoya stands out not as the only female but also one of the most skilled.

Mafaiti commends WVM for the mentorship programme saying vocational and entrepreneurial skills development is the ideal way of turning unemployed youths into productive citizens for national development.

Mafaiti, however, laments inadequate welding equipment to reach out to many youths in the area.
Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Public Relations Officer Lucy Bandazi says Gogoya has set a good example to other girls to venture into male dominated industries.

“As Ministry of Gender, we encourage promotion of education for both men and women from primary levels.

“Our conviction is that when more women get educated, they meet the job demand,” Bandazi says.

WVM’s Technical Programmes Manager for Education Florence Pwele says Gogoya is among 1,350 youths benefiting from the Action for Adolescents Development Programme implemented in 14 districts including Thyolo.

“It is pleasing to see both young men and women become independent and productive citizens through vocational and entrepreneurial skills.

“Through different approaches, we encourage young people to participate in various socioeconomic activities to improve their living standards,” Pwele says.

Thyolo District Youth Officer Doreen Mbendera applauds WVM saying the programme complements government’s efforts in ensuring that youths including young women are empowered with vocational and entrepreneurial skills to be self-reliant.

Mbendera says her office has also lined up activities aimed at identifying potential entrepreneurs to impart knowledge to youths and link them to money lending institutions to access soft loans as startup capital. 

“All these economic empowerment activities are deliberate attempts to reduce unemployment rate among the youths,” Mbendera says.

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