African Engineers: Girls in Engineering

It’s well-known that in Ghana most of the most profitable entrepreneurs and wealthiest persons are girls. They’re well-known for dominating sure sectors of the economic system, proudly owning a whole lot of taxis, tipper vans and fishing boats. On a smaller scale, girls are broadly concerned in buying and selling, meals processing and a few craft industries. From the time that the Know-how Consultancy Centre (TCC) of the Kwame Nkrumah College of Science and Know-how (KNUST), Kumasi, opened on 11 January 1972, most of the folks calling for assist to improve their enterprises had been girls. But within the huge casual industrial space, Suame Journal, Kumasi, with its 1000’s of workshops and tens of 1000’s of grasp craftsmen and apprentices, there was not a single girl engaged in any engineering exercise, and it was not till the Nineties {that a} critical effort was made to alter the state of affairs.

Within the early days of the TCC a few of the most profitable companies assisted by college consultants had been owned and run by girls. Mrs Clara Appiah efficiently produced Afro-wigs from sisal hemp fibre from 1972 till her premature demise in 1974. Madam Offeh performed a number one position in her husband’s animal feed enterprise, established as they typically remarked through the United Nations Worldwide Girls’s Yr (1975), and Vera Gambrah ran a thriving cleaning soap making enterprise till the small scale business was obliterated by IMF dictates in 1985. Inspired by these early successes, many extra girls got here ahead with small business tasks to make the most of new applied sciences turning into out there by way of the TCC in textiles and meals processing. After the introduction of contemporary beekeeping within the early Nineteen Eighties many ladies turned concerned in establishing small apiaries. From its founding in 1975, this initiative to contain extra girls in small scale enterprise was drastically inspired and supported by the Nationwide Council of Girls and Growth (NCWD), however all through the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties just one girl got here ahead to the TCC in Kumasi with an curiosity in beginning an engineering enterprise, and she or he was not from Suame Journal however from Tema.

Tema is about 300 kilometres from Kumasi on the south coast, east of Accra. Initially a small fishing village, Tema was developed by the federal government of Kwame Nkrumah (1957 – 1966) into a contemporary harbour dealing with most of Ghana’s imports. This growth attracted many industries, giant and small. On this extra progressive atmosphere, Georgina Degbor had educated as a centre lathe turner. She got here to the TCC in Kumasi in 1986 with a request to be allotted one of many used Colchester Triumph centre lathes anticipated to reach earlier than the tip of the 12 months. Georgina’s expertise had been assessed on the Suame Intermediate Know-how Switch Unit (ITTU) and the choice was taken to assist her begin her personal small engineering enterprise. Nonetheless, as Georgina lived in Tema, the matter was handed to the Tema ITTU when the GRATIS Undertaking began there in February 1987. She put in her machine in workshop area employed from the ITTU and have become a job mannequin demonstrating to different younger girls that engineering craft expertise had been now not a male protect. With one other educated feminine technician, Elizabeth Asiamah, on the ITTU employees, it was not lengthy earlier than the Tema ITTU was attracting ladies in addition to boys onto its apprenticeship programme.

In 1987, the GRATIS Undertaking took over the Tamale ITTU from the TCC. It stunned many seasoned engineering instructors that on this distant northern outpost, with its primarily rural setting, ladies got here ahead to use for technical apprenticeships on an equal scale to Tema. The primary technology of apprentices in Tema and Tamale served their time, and most of them went on to determine their very own workshops, both as sole proprietorships or with two or three artisans in partnership. The progress of girls in engineering was regular however sluggish, so within the mid-Nineties the TCC joined with Intermediate Know-how Ghana (ITGhana), a Tema-based NGO, to mount a ‘Girls in Engineering’ venture supported by the Worldwide Labour Organisation (ILO).

Younger girls who had graduated from the ITTU apprenticeship programme had been recruited to hold out a nationwide survey of engineering enterprises and technical faculties to determine the ladies who had been already certified or underneath coaching in an engineering craft. On the similar time workshop house owners and grasp craftsmen had been inspired to recruit apprentices of each genders and usually to take part within the Girls in Engineering venture. The venture culminated in a nationwide discussion board, held within the British Council Corridor in Accra, attended by authorities officers, technical instructors, workshop house owners and many of the feminine technicians and apprentices recognized by the survey. A central function of the discussion board was the presentation of the life tales of a few of the pioneering girls workshop house owners. The occasion was considered a serious success; it was nicely reported within the media, alerted authorities to the problem and the chance and altered the perspective of many male workshop house owners. The engineering business in Ghana might not have turn into an equal alternative employer in a single day however a big step had been taken in that course.

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