Magare Company transforms a woman’s dream

At 27 years old, Ms Basilisa Omary is making her name as a welder, after completing her one-year studies at the Mtwara Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) in 2015.

She has been working with various companies since then, and unfortunately everywhere she goes, she finds out that she is the only female.

As the only female worker, she usually expects to encounter team spirit from her male workmates so that she could gain more experience, but it has been in vain, only to be faced with ridicule and bad mouthing.

“There was a time when I was working for one company in Dar es salaam, and my male workmates used to ridicule me mercilessly, telling me that I belong in a hair dressing salon or as a food vendor, because welding was not meant for me,” she narrates.

According to her, it was one of the worst moments for her, but she persisted because that was the only career she is good at. She says that there was a time when the contracts of several workers, including hers, expired, but hers was not renewed while the male worker’s contracts were renewed, and she knew it was because she was a woman.

However, Basilisa didn’t give up until a few days ago when she secured a job at the Singida Gold Mine Project in Ikungi District, Singida region.

She came across a job vacancy announcement by Magare Company Limited, a sub-contractor in the gold mine project that deals with electrical engineering in mines and industries. She applied and was thrilled when she was selected, and joined the company about two months ago.

Even at her new working place, Basilisa is still the only woman out of 40 employees in the gold mine belonging to Shanta Gold Mining Company.

Being the only lady made Basilisa to recall discriminative moments she passed through in previous companies she worked for, but vowed to be confident and withstand the situation at her new working place. In the gold mine project, Basilisa is especially tasked with welding metal tanks which will be used to accommodate gold pan chemicals once the mine starts operations next year.

“Luckily, the situation is quite opposite as team work culture prevails here. My past agonies have remained history. I have the chance to fully practice what I learnt in class as well as experiencing new technologies in this welding industry,” she says.

Among the technologies she had never experienced is the use of four millimeter welding sticks, because she was used to two millimeter sticks only.

“I have also come to realize that four millimeter sticks have special areas where they can be used in welding, of which I had never been assigned to. This is my first time, which is knowledge I gained from my colleagues here,” she says.

As a result of team work spirit, the Basilisa is now competent in connecting the tanks’ joints, an area she describes as one of the toughest tasks in welding, but she perfectly makes it. She says that what really makes her happy is the fact that Magare Company assigns her tasks she never practiced before, a move that sharpens her skill and enables her to match with the rapid change in technology.

She vows to continue sharpening her skills so that the company could be impressed and decide to retain her when the project is over.

Following exposure to modern technologies in the mine, Basilisa believes that she is capable of working in major projects Magare Company will be implementing anywhere. She urges her fellow women to grab economic opportunities coming their way, as there are no specific income generating activities for a certain gender.

According to her experience, very few women have passion for welding, with the wrong assumption that the work is solely for men.

“But it is this job that helps me in my upkeep and my two children whose father abandoned them,” she says.

Her chief Supervisor in the project site, Mr George Christopher describes Basilisa as a strong woman who performs very sensitive work expertly, sometimes more than men.

Commenting on why Basilisa is the only female out of 40 employees, the supervisor responds that gender balance is among the company’s priorities, and that women who meet the qualifications are never left behind.

“Based on my long term experience in mining works through Magare, I can also say that we have Basilisa only due to shortage of competent women in the welding industry,” he says.

He says he is not surprised by Basilisa’s quick learning ability she has displayed in only two months, because youth skill sharpening is a long lasting culture that Magare Company is proud of.

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