By Helvecia Takwe, Cameroon
TVETI Women is a group of women in the technical and vocational trades created in 2019 aimed at fostering the activities of women, girls and people living with disabilities in the technical and vocational trades in Cameroon and beyond. In 2019 Helvecia Nfombi Takwe, an Australia Awards Alumna in the TVET Trainer’s Development program, after her training in Kenya and Australia initiated the formation of TVETI Women. These group of women in partnership with World Economy Skills and Agro Development (WESAD) formally World Vision for Education and Development (WVED), Action Group on Governance and Environmental Management (AGGEM) and the Ministry of Employment and Vocational Training (MINEFOP) initiated a project within the Reintegration Action Plan (RAP) of Helvecia Nfombi Takwe in 2019 called #changethestory campaign.
The #changethestory campaign began with an online campaign which saw the participation of over 1,000 women around the world with messages of inspiration for women, girls and people living with disabilities to engage in TVET trades. On the 20th of August 2021 TVETI Women in partnership with WESAD, AGGEM and MINEFOP organized a focused group discussion led by Helvecia Nfombi Takwe and Ngang Eric Mboumien (both Australia Awards Alumni) aimed at developing strategies to overcome the challenges that women in the male dominated TVET trades face and to destigmatize TVET thereby increasing by 15% the number of women, girls and people living with disabilities in most especially the male dominated TVET trades. Present in the discussions where 27 key actor which include the Regional Delegate for Employment and Vocational Training (MINEFOP) North-West Region of Cameroon, TVETI Women, industry partners and some female role models in the “meant for men” TVET trades such as Iron Bending, Painting, Architect, Epoxy, Graphic Design, building construction, Electrical and power engineering, Barbing, and Welding.
Highlights on Focus Group Discussions (FGDs)
Three focus group discussions with 9 members in each group was centered on the challenges faced by women, girls and people living with disabilities in TVET trade and way forward in overcoming the challenges faced by these vulnerable group of persons. The role models each shared their stories of experiences and challenges that they face (see photos in the annex) and discussions were done on the way forward as follows:
Some major challenges faced by TVET female entrepreneurs in male dominated jobs:
- Difficulties in accessing finance for capital to purchase working tools, equipment’s, machineries, acquired decent workshops as most of the male dominated trades are very competitive
- Lack of adequate training and upskill in new technologies
- Lack of capacity building in entrepreneurship and financial management
- Lack of self-confidence as the society mocks and look low on the women who are doing the male dominated jobs called “meant for men job” there by stigmatizing them.
- 500 posters have been printed by WESAD, AGGEM and MINEFOP to be used by TVETI women for the sensitization campaign.
- Sensitization campaign took off on the 20th of August with the pasting of posters in public places in our various communities and talks organised in churches, schools, socio-cultural gatherings, and markets to create awareness on the importance of TVET skills acquisition to women, girls and people living with disbilities.
- Build partnership that can provide vulnerable women, girls and people living with disabilities in the TVET trades with technical, material and/ or financial support to start up and grow decent businesses
- Build partnership that can provide vulnerable women, girls and people living with disabilities in the TVET trades with the necessary training, upskill in new technologies and capacity building in entrepreneurship and financial management to build the self-confidence of these vulnerable group of women
- Change behaviours and mindset on TVET there by reducing stigma.
- Identification of projects and partners to support women, girls and people living with disabilities based on their specific needs is on going
Our Sincere thanks to Australia Awards Team, QUT and TAFE for the knowledge acquired from the training as this helping me and the organisation I worked for to transform the lives of women, girls and people living with disabilities in my community. Our #changethestory campaign is still on going and I will keep updating the team on our progress.