Weld Like a Woman: Ateh Julish Breaks Work Pattern in Cameroon
By Sonita Ngunyi Nwohtazie
Choosing what to study in school is a very difficult decision to make for some people as many fear the outcome of what it may cost them to practice it as a profession in Cameroon especially.
But this is not the case for Ateh Julish, a female welder by profession, who has decided to practice what she studied in school, breaking pre-existing barriers concerning women. While the notion of a woman welder is neither foreign nor frowned upon, when it comes to sheer numbers, the welding field remains a male-dominated classroom and workplace. From mining to maritime, fabrication and beyond, women are making headway in every aspect of the industry.
Being the only female builder in a construction site in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon, Ateh Julish took it upon herself to be an example to many other women who have studied in the same line but failed to practice despite all odds.
“I enjoy the work because I decided to study it in school, not someone forcing it on me,” Ateh Julish told Pan African Visions from a construction site in Buea. “I don’t only build but I also do welding in this construction site.”
“I also do iron bending which compliments my work here, but being the only female welder here sometimes it gets tough. But since I have been practising, I don’t allow my weaknesses to get over my job, as I have become adapted to them. This is what I use to feed my family and equally send my kids to school with.’’
There is a common misconception that women are not able to become good at welding. This is not true. Not paying attention to the negative critics given to her by her other male colleagues, the twenty-five-year-old welder gives a deaf ear to it.
“Working with men is sometimes very challenging especially in such fields because they sometimes turn to minimize my strength with the pretext that I am a woman. They speak to me rudely because of the fear of wanting to do more than them, but it doesn’t affect my working spirit because I was and I am always ready for such. I have already understood that such circumstances always occur in such fields,” Ateh Julish expatriates.
Ateh Julish continues to encourage her fellow female gender to be courageous and hardworking, as the world is evolving, women like her should be able to contribute to the growth of the Cameroonian economy.
“I will like to advise my fellow women out there not to minimize themselves by telling themselves they can’t do some work because society holds that it is meant only for men. But by putting in the best of your strength only, then can you do it and do it more than some men. I will say that it is not easy, but only your strength and positive mindset can make things work out,” Julish advised.
Despite all these numerous challenges faced, Ateh Julish continuously engages in her welding and building activities to earn a living. She reiterates that there is no job specification for a particular gender in society and hence, only determination and hard work is the foundation of every successful story.