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Betty’s breaking gender stereotypes in Rwanda

What do you get when you stumble upon a female plumber and a male baker? Broken gender stereotypes! In communities across Rwanda, determined young women and men are chipping away at traditional gender stereotypes linked to careers. This shift is especially apparent when you meet young women like Betty.

A woman in a male-dominated job

As far as a typical plumbing teacher might go, Betty doesn’t fit the bill. She’s female. She’s pregnant. And she’s teaching a class full of young men about her trade at a Plan-supported vocational training centre. Watch her amazing story:

Teaching equality and acceptance

These Plan-supported vocational training centres are changing the face of youth employment across Rwanda. Women are encouraged to join traditionally male-dominated careers like plumbing, construction and welding, providing equal opportunities for women and men to succeed in whichever career they choose.

“Every woman should know she can succeed in any profession she wants,” explained Betty. “When you are eager to achieve something, you can overcome any obstacle.”

Students aged 14-25 are selected by their communities and local leaders. They study for 6 months and practice their selected trade for an additional 6 months. Upon completion, they’re ready for the workforce, and like Betty, some may elect to teach others.

Paving the way for change

“What Betty did for us is invaluable,” said Augustin, a student of Betty’s. “She gives us practical examples and makes sure you understand what she teaches…she does her best to help you understand.”

Both women and men benefit from the training they receive at the vocational centres. All students receive the education and hands-on experience they need for future employment. And most important, each student leaves with the confidence he or she needs to succeed.

“Other women my age will be impressed and encouraged,” said Brigitte, a welding student. “And my son will have a role model to learn from.”

Ezekiel, a man studying a trade uncommon for men, is confident in his new skills. “I am not ashamed to tell everybody that I am a cook,” he said. “Coming here was a unique opportunity for me and I know I have a brighter future for it.”

As for Betty, where she is today has nothing to do with her gender, just her hard work and determination.

“In my perception, there is no issue being a plumber,” said Betty. “Being a woman should not prevent you from being a plumber. The most important thing is the passion.”

We couldn’t agree more!

You can help support vocational training programs like these, and help women and girls break down barriers and reach their full potential.