African Engineers: Women of all ages in Engineering

It is very well acknowledged that in Ghana many of the most successful business owners and wealthiest folks are females. They are famous for dominating selected sectors of the economic system, proudly owning hundreds of taxis, tipper vans and fishing boats. On a more compact scale, gals are extensively included in trading, food processing and some craft industries. From the time that the Technology Consultancy Centre (TCC) of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, opened on 11 January 1972, lots of of the people today contacting for assist to enhance their enterprises had been women. Nonetheless in the wide informal industrial region, Suame Magazine, Kumasi, with its hundreds of workshops and tens of 1000’s of master craftsmen and apprentices, there was not a solitary lady engaged in any engineering exercise, and it was not until eventually the 1990s that a serious work was made to modify the problem.

In the early days of the TCC some of the most thriving organizations assisted by university consultants were owned and operate by females. Mrs Clara Appiah effectively made Afro-wigs from sisal hemp fibre from 1972 right up until her untimely death in 1974. Madam Offeh played a top function in her husband’s animal feed business, proven as they frequently remarked through the United Nations Intercontinental Women’s Year (1975), and Vera Gambrah ran a flourishing soap producing business till the smaller scale business was obliterated by IMF dictates in 1985. Inspired by these early successes, lots of a lot more females arrived ahead with modest market assignments to choose gain of new systems getting to be obtainable by the TCC in textiles and meals processing. Right after the introduction of fashionable beekeeping in the early 1980s numerous females grew to become included in establishing modest apiaries. From its founding in 1975, this initiative to involve a lot more girls in little scale company was greatly inspired and supported by the Nationwide Council of Girls and Growth (NCWD), but all over the 1970s and 1980s only one lady arrived ahead to the TCC in Kumasi with an desire in starting off an engineering business, and she was not from Suame Journal but from Tema.

Tema is about 300 kilometres from Kumasi on the south coastline, east of Accra. Initially a modest fishing village, Tema was produced by the governing administration of Kwame Nkrumah (1957 – 1966) into a contemporary harbour managing most of Ghana’s imports. This progress captivated numerous industries, huge and compact. In this more progressive environment, Georgina Degbor had qualified as a centre lathe turner. She came to the TCC in Kumasi in 1986 with a request to be allocated one of the made use of Colchester Triumph centre lathes expected to get there just before the conclusion of the yr. Georgina’s techniques were assessed at the Suame Intermediate Technological know-how Transfer Unit (ITTU) and the selection was taken to support her begin her have little engineering organization. Nevertheless, as Georgina lived in Tema, the issue was handed to the Tema ITTU when the Free of charge Job started there in February 1987. She set up her device in workshop space employed from the ITTU and became a part model demonstrating to other younger ladies that engineering craft abilities ended up no extended a male preserve. With yet another trained woman technician, Elizabeth Asiamah, on the ITTU staff, it was not long in advance of the Tema ITTU was attracting women as well as boys onto its apprenticeship programme.

In 1987, the Gratis Project took over the Tamale ITTU from the TCC. It surprised quite a few seasoned engineering instructors that in this distant northern outpost, with its in essence rural environment, ladies arrived forward to apply for complex apprenticeships on an equivalent scale to Tema. The 1st generation of apprentices in Tema and Tamale served their time, and most of them went on to set up their personal workshops, either as sole proprietorships or with two or a few artisans in partnership. The progress of women in engineering was constant but slow, so in the mid-1990s the TCC joined with Intermediate Technological innovation Ghana (ITGhana), a Tema-centered NGO, to mount a ‘Women in Engineering’ undertaking supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Younger females who experienced graduated from the ITTU apprenticeship programme ended up recruited to have out a nationwide study of engineering enterprises and technological universities to recognize the gals who had been now experienced or below training in an engineering craft. At the very same time workshop house owners and learn craftsmen had been encouraged to recruit apprentices of both genders and typically to participate in the Gals in Engineering job. The task culminated in a nationwide forum, held in the British Council Hall in Accra, attended by federal government officials, technological instructors, workshop proprietors and most of the feminine specialists and apprentices recognized by the survey. A central feature of the discussion board was the presentation of the life stories of some of the groundbreaking females workshop entrepreneurs. The function was regarded as a major accomplishment it was properly documented in the media, alerted authorities to the challenge and the chance and transformed the mindset of numerous male workshop owners. The engineering business in Ghana could not have grow to be an equivalent prospect employer overnight but a major stage had been taken in that route.