Malawi is one of the Sub-Saharan African countries where, for decades, engineering has been regarded strictly as a ‘man’s job’. However, that mindset has changed in urban areas due to the introduction of institutions of higher technical education, as well as technical colleges that enroll and train both male and female students in different programs. Subsequently, the employment of more women engineers by government and non-governmental organizations has significantly contributed to changing the way the majority used to perceive engineering. Nonetheless, that is not always the case in rural Malawi, where engineering colleges, as well as facilities that require technical expertise to function, are a rare sight, except for water pumps.
Maria Phiri is a Pump Aid-Beyond Water Area Mechanic who repairs, services and maintains 74 water pumps single-handedly in her catchment area of Senior Chief Kaomba, in Kasungu District.
““When I decided to go for training as an Area Mechanic, I didn’t look at my gender as a setback to learn and do what the larger society perceives as a man’s task, but I looked at the significance of clean and adequate water in the welfare of the entire family.” Continues Maria, “Before I attended the Professionalized water pump Repair and Maintenance training by Pump Aid-Beyond Water, “When I decided to go for training as an Area Mechanic, I didn’t look at my gender as a setback to learn and do what the larger society perceives as a man’s task, but I looked at the significance of clean and adequate water in the welfare of the entire family.” She says.
Being one of the 6 Female Area Mechanics in Malawi, Maria urges fellow women and girls to believe in themselves and break retrogressive social taboos if they are to be major players in national development. “Don’t look down on yourself, learn and work with passion, despite your gender.” she says.
As we cerebrate International Women in Engineering Day under the 2023 theme ‘Make Safety Seen’, Maria encourages fellow women engineers to put safety first in their line of duty. “Let’s prioritize our own safety first as Area Mechanics, as we provide safety to communities through quality water supply, though it is very hard for most of us to access and afford full safety gear here in rural areas.” Concludes Maria.
Support Pump Aid today and contribute to safety and productivity of our dedicated rural engineers to celebrate Women in Engineering Day.