In the past, certain jobs were a preserve of men. Such work was referred to as men’s jobs. However, times have changed and women have demonstrated that they can execute any job, sometimes even better than men. Diana Namutebi talked to some women who are doing jobs that are meant for men.
Hellen Namutebi, a carpenter
I love my job as a carpenter. I have been doing this job for three years. I trained from a certain carpentry factory in Nakawa. It has not been easy because of the heavy work involved and the stigma, but I have managed to make it.
Carpentry work is good and more women should take it up because it is a skills job. Ideally, you move with your workshop wherever you go, which means that you cannot fail to earn a living. Most women fear to do such jobs because they involve a lot of heavy manual work and getting dirty.
However, they forget that such jobs pay much more than being a house maid or prostitute. In fact, such jobs give you a good foundation, to start a business of your own because you get the knowledge, customer contacts, experience and enough savings.
Women should rise up, get rid of the fear and go for the so called men’s jobs.
That is the only way they will be able to sustain themselves, like men do.
Florence Nakyeyune, a builder
I have built my confidence as a builder. I do most of the work the men do except the highly technical or heavy work. I picked interest in working on construction sites after I was out of work for a very long while.
I am educated at a middle level so I did not even have the papers to help me look for a job.
Despite my being uneducated and jobless, I did not have the desire to do those petty jobs women get subjected to. I gathered courage and asked for work on a construction site.
At first they used to only let me clean, but I was keen and interested in learning.
My bosses taught me a lot of things and they would entrust me with more assignments every day.
I took one step at a time, but I am good at most of the things men do. Women should know that such jobs pay well better than carrying food across town or prostitution.
In addition, the men are more willing to accommodate us on such sites and you work side by side with them. Eventually, you earn their respect and enough money to take you to another level.
Ritah Nakato, a mechanic
I studied mechanical engineering at Buganda Royal Institute.
I picked interest in mechanical engineering because of my love for cars and exceling in physics in my secondary school.
Through research, I found out that I could do mechanical engineering and that there was a big market for female mechanical engineers.
However, In Uganda, today, this job is still challenging because there is a lot of heavy lifting and manual work, which is not easy for women.
If garages would bring in machines to do the heavy lifting, then we would ably compete with the men.
If more women could join this profession, then they would realise the beauty of doing men’s jobs because they pay better.
Also, customers would get value for their money because women are honest and neat.
Rosemary Asaba, a sergeant
I secretly applied to join the Police Force in my Senior Two at St Andrea Kaawa College, Hoima in 1990.
Back then, I admired the police band, which used to come and play near my school.
They were smart, organized and talented. I just wanted to be part of them. However, they took long to call me into the force.
By the time they called me for training, my interest had somehow diminished.
But my brother, who was in the force, urged me to join and put strict instructions for me not to leave the training.
The training in Masindi was harsh; I could not escape because of the fear of my brother.
When the training was over, I was excited to be a police officer, but I had to work for a long time before any promotion would come my way and the rate of sexual harassment was high.
With IGP Kale Kaihura in office, things in the Force have changed, our hard work pays and we see promotions coming our way as women and the cases of sexual harassment have been dealt with.
However, the biggest challenge for women working in the Forces is balancing work and family. When a transfer comes, a woman has to make a choice whether to leave her family behind or go with it to her new post.
But either way, for a woman working in the forces, it will always be challenging. I encourage women to join the Forces because with more women, they will be more efficient and the work conditions for the women will continue to improve.
Jackline Kobusingye, a construction worker
This is my third site I am working on; and every site comes with its own challenges. Some men will woo you in an effort to destruct you, but I have learnt to manage that unwanted attention.
I am determined to make it in this so-called men’s world because I have responsibilities. I have discovered that the work is well paying yet it is not so difficult to do.
I take it step by step and I work smart. If a man pushes a wheel barrow of sand up a building, I will take a half at a time, but I make sure I have taken the same amount of sand at the end of the day.
The future of women who are interested in such jobs is bright. For example, we are about 15 girls who were employed on this site and you will definitely find women on every building site in Kampala. This means construction firms have realised that we can also do a good job.
I can now fix and fill tiles in a neat manner and I am sure that my expertise will grow if I continue to learn from the men I work with.