Automotive industry

A sociology professor is ‘feminizing’ the Nigerian auto industry

Fatima Adamu has disrupted the country’s auto mechanics industry by training women to repair cars and trucks and helping them integrate into the male-dominated workforce.

In September 2019, 23-year-old Shamsiyya Bashir signed up as an auto mechanic trainee at Nana Female Auto Mechanic Garage, an all-girls auto shop launched in Sokoto State, northern Nigeria, a conservative and violence in Nigeria.

She is the first cohort of 16 students enrolled in the program to receive training, apprenticeship and internship opportunities in engineering courses and automotive services. It’s an experience she’s been waiting for since she was a teenager.

Growing up, she watched her father, an automotive engineer remove car engines and repair brains and other important automobile components in his mechanical workshop in Kara Market, Sokoto.

“That’s where my interest in automotive mechanical engineering was born. I saw my father drop the engine of the car, fix it and it started running, it was magic for me, and that made me curious to learn this skill,” Shamsiyya said.

“So immediately I was admitted to Caliphate College of Health Technology in Mabera, Sokoto to study Health Technology, I knew I had got what it takes to get into this male dominated sector, but I didn’t know how to go about it until i heard about this female mechanic garage.

In her first few months of training, she learned to perform general automotive maintenance, repair alternators and cooling fans, and is looking forward to learning the skills needed to repair brains, crankshafts and engines.

But she had to contend with a deep-rooted patriarchy that places women in second-class status in the male-dominated Nordic society. Bashir has been ridiculed by her friends who believe the job is only for men.

“They said I was wasting my time, but it didn’t affect me because I love the job and I was determined to get it done,” she said. TRT World.

For decades, the northern region of Nigeria has remained a male stronghold, often making it difficult for women and girls to enter male-dominated spaces. Here, the entry of girls into the labor market is controlled by early marriage and the creation of a family.

They face a limited choice of professions, coupled with a lack of education and marginalization from schools and skills training programs. It is a reflection of common cultural beliefs that women and girls face.

Nana Women’s Auto Garage aims to impart technical and entrepreneurial skills to women so that they can excel in the automotive industry in Northern Nigeria. (Courtesy of: Nana Female Auto Mechanic Garage)

Creating a safe space for young women

Fatima Adamu, a sociology professor at Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, is making an unprecedented effort to overturn a system that has so far denied women access to tech-related businesses. She takes women on a journey of self-discovery in automotive mechanical engineering – a male-dominated industry that is primarily challenged by traditional gender roles and insecurities.

Through her initiative, a private initiative of the NANA Girls and Women Empowerment Initiative which began in 2019, Fatima is breaking the glass ceiling and empowering women and girls from poor rural backgrounds, through economic empowerment and education. acquiring entrepreneurial skills in auto mechanics so they can own auto shops in the area.

The idea started when she realized that more and more women were becoming car owners as parents bought cars for their daughters at Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto where she teaches, to protect them from the bullying.

And being a member of one of the school’s committees, she began taking notes on complaints about men taking advantage of girls when helping them fix their broken down vehicle.

“It was like a light bulb for me, being part of this committee opened my eyes to the excruciating pain and harassment women go through when men help them fix their cars,” Adamu said. TRT World.

“I made my findings and the responses I got were that garages are not female-friendly, being a male space. So I thought about feminizing that space, and that was my goal. Everywhere where there is masculinity, I want to feminize it.

In Sokoto, where she works, less than 2% of girls complete secondary school and the literacy rate for women is only 10% compared to 40% for men, about 35% of 15-34 year olds in Nigeria are Unemployed.

Adamu, however, is optimistic.

It creates an ideological shift from the automotive repair industry, seen as a male strong point, to populate it with a female workforce.

For her, it is more of an income-generating business for women and her own way of tackling the controversial task of providing equal gender opportunities in the region. Its aim is to provide opportunities for women in all male dominated sectors in Nigeria. Automotive and mechanical engineering is just one field. At Nana Female Mechanic Garage, Adamu oversees training, apprenticeship and internship programs for young women and girls.

The first cohort has just finished their apprenticeship and some have stayed, says Adamu.

“After training as mechanics, six of the graduating trainees are now working in the garage. We are now considering shortlisting another set in February, but are very aware of our limited space.

Zainab Dayyabu, another trainee, is also part of this cohort. She learned to lift heavy equipment, including vehicles, using a hydraulic car jack during her first six months of training. She also learned the art of headlight and taillight maintenance, including repairing the horn, steering, and ignition key.

“My training here at Nana Female Mechanic Garage is so worth it, I saw it as something only men can do due to their masculinity. But with my training that has changed. I hope to open my own garage and train other young women like me,” Zainab told TRT World.

Western education prohibited

Nigeria currently has more than 13 million out-of-school children, most of whom are victims of Boko Haram activities in northeastern Nigeria, which is the highest in the world. The terrorist group is also largely responsible for ranking Nigeria third in the Global Terrorism Index.

When the group began committing large-scale assassinations and acts of violence after the death of its founder Muhammed Yusuf in 2009, many saw them as disgruntled men under the influence of religious fanaticism. But soon the group began targeting the Nigerian education system, attacking schools and assaulting students and teachers. They have also disrupted access to education and social services for young people, especially girls, in the region.

Adamu says Boko Haram’s hatred of women is one of the manifestations of the country’s deep-rooted patriarchy. With her organization, she hopes to support the education of young girls from poor families in hard-to-reach communities, which she believes will lead to transformation in northern Nigeria.

“We go to hard-to-reach areas and pick at least one poor girl and send her to school in both Sokoto and Kebbi. We want to set an example for the whole community and motivate other girls to be interested in education,” said Adamu.

“We cannot go on like this, the part of achieving transformation is through the women who are going to be mothers, those who are going to socialize the future of Nigerian citizens. You can’t have an ignorant mother and expect her to raise a knowledgeable child, that’s why female education is the survival of the North.

The initiative receives unprecedented support from academic institutions such as Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic, Sokoto, and Waziri Umaru Federal Polytechnic, Birnin Kebbi, and Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, which provide theoretical guidance to the trainees. It is also supported by technicians who welcome students to their garages and train them.

Adamu’s goal for the next 10 years is to create a Women’s Tech Hub and support women in all kinds of tech-related businesses. This, she believes, will help them, especially widows, build a reliable livelihood.

Source: World TRT