Cordaid Ethiopia in partnership with the Centre for Innovation of Education and Training (CINOP) are implementing the Stability and Safety for Women in the Work Force – Strengthening the skills of women through Tailor made Training (TMT) project. The project is working with educators and staff primarily from the Bahir Dar Poly Technic College, a Technical Vocational Education & Training (TVET) institute, as well as the Sustainable Women Empowerment Organisation (SWE) and the Development Expertise Centre (DEC) to strengthen their capacity in gender sensitive education and career guidance for students. The project also works with industry stakeholders in Bahir Dar through facilitating networking and experience sharing engagements with TVET institutes and strengthening gender equitable referral mechanisms between employers and TVET graduates.
Semira Mossah, 28, a Building Construction Management teacher at Bahir Dar Poly Technic College has been participating in the project. Semira was born and raised in Bahir Dar city. She has a bachelor’s degree in Wood Science technology from Adama University and a Master’s degree in construction management from Addis Ababa University.
Semira became a teacher to contribute to the community in a meaningful way and she has been teaching for ten years. She loves her job and takes pride in her profession – this motivates her to go to work every day. She was invited to participate in the project because of her affiliation in the Bahir Dar Poly Technic College’s gender club. She felt that participation in the project would help her to become a better coach and leader for others, especially women. Semira shared her thoughts about her experience participating in the project so far, as well as her thoughts on the issues affecting women’s educational journey and their access to the labour market.
What do you think are the fundamental issues affecting women’s ability to succeed at the Bahir Dar Poly Technic College?
“The major issue is women’s lack of confidence because they grow up in an environment where men are encouraged to work outside the home, while the women are encouraged to stay inside. This makes them lose motivation and self-esteem to pursue certain career paths. Furthermore, the college is not able to provide specific facilities and accommodations for women to make their educational journey easier, such as childcare services, a breast-feeding area and maternity leave. Female students are also often plagued with physical and psychological harassment while they travel from their homes to school, which can be a deterrent.”
What challenges do women who have completed their training and have graduated face when trying to access the labour market?
“The major challenge is related to biased employment practices by which most employers do not want to employ a female candidate for several reasons, with maternity leave being the major reason for not recruiting. Even if she is infertile, the employers might think that she has some responsibilities related to her home or family, so they would prefer to recruit a man over the woman.”
How do you think the project is supporting women students to succeed throughout their educational journey?
“The project helped to increase awareness and understanding of how to cooperate and work as a team. The networking and participatory approach of the project has been especially effective. Bringing different stakeholders together is what will bring about real change and begin the process of tackling some of these issues.”
Do you think this project is important? If so, why?
“Yes, it is. Firstly, it has helped us to increase our awareness about the issues that women face during their education and afterwards, while trying to gain employment. This creates an opportunity for us to work together to put solutions in place and achieve a better outcome. Secondly, it is helping create gender equity TVET students and graduates.”
What have been your significant takeaways and learnings from this project so far?
“I have learned that the best way to succeed is to cooperate and work as a team. Unless we work together to meet an objective, starting from the training sessions, we cannot succeed in giving opportunities to graduates in the labour market. Also, wherever we are, we can bring gender equity to our institution either using affirmative action or different approaches.”
What is your hope for the future as it pertains to women’s educational journey and labour market success?
“I wish to see more women obtaining jobs in every type of profession. I also wish to see women shine both at school and in the workplace, because I know they have the potential.”