New skills for girls in the Philippines
Adapted from original article by Frank Guevara, Community Development Facilitator, Plan Philippines
In an employment sector dominated by men, women welders in the Philippines are practically unheard of.
So when Plan began offering scholarships to males and females for trade skills courses that included welding, pipe-fitting and ship painting, heads turned.
Unheard of, but not unneeded
Female welders may be unheard of in the Philippines, but they are very much needed — especially as the demand for welders, pipe-fitters and ship painters in certain regions, such as Samar (where Plan operates), continues to grow.
To address both the regional need for skilled workers and the more pressing need to increase household economic security of families, Plan — together with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Municipal Local Government of Lope de Vega — recently enrolled 30 trainees (20 males and 10 females) from Lope de Vega in a four-month welding course. And it wasn’t long before the female students began to out-perform their male counterparts.
"These girls work better than the boys; they weld finely and naturally,” said welding instructor Danilo Dones. “This is the first time we have had a group of women welders. They will serve as an example to other training centers in the region to encourage other young women to enroll in welding."
Taking the path less traveled
All the women trainees passed their examinations and are now fully-certified welders. One was 18-year-old Delailah — known to friends and families as Lilac. As is the case with many of the communities where Plan works, Lilac’s community is economically strapped: 85% of families are poor and livelihood options are limited –and Lilac’s family is no exception. Her father owns his own small business, yet is still barely able to cover the family's needs.
Determined to escape the route that so many young girls her age followed — marrying young and having children while still barely out of childhood themselves — Lilac resolutely pursued achieving an education and usable skills. When she heard that Plan was offering scholarships for technical classes, she saw her future brighten considerably.
Lilac’s grandmother, Mana Tete, was also keen for Lilac, the eldest of her six grandchildren, to go down a different path. Initially skeptical of a girl employed in a man's job, Mana Tete soon realized the advantages: "I do not want her to be like other young girls who get pregnant at their early age," she said. "And I know many teenage mothers because I attended to their births."
Today, Lilac is employed by a shipping firm that hired her as a welder soon after graduation.
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