“Four years ago, I was done with high school and desperately wanted to go to university. However, my parents could not afford college fees. Just when I thought I was going to become a trader, someone introduced me to technical college and that’s when my whole life changed.”
Blessing Oyeniyi spent the next three years of her life in vocational school acquiring training in electrical engineering. Upon completion of technical college, she applied for a pupillage at the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) in Lagos, Nigeria. Blessing began her on-the-job training in January 2018.
“The on-the-job training was very hands-on, and it lasted for twelve months. It was not easy, but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It was during the training that I discovered what being a line worker entailed and as early as my first month, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in this field.”
Blessing’s story represents the culmination of one of the many successes of EKEDC’s participation in the USAID-funded and Power Africa-supported Engendering Utilities program. Engendering Utilities seeks to enhance gender equality in the power and water sectors through interventions that effectively increase the role of women in male-dominated industries. Following an expansion in 2019, Engendering Utilities now works directly with 17 utilities in 14 countries.
Although Blessing enjoyed working on the lines, her parents were not happy about her career choice. On several occasions, they tried to discourage her by reminding her that this type of work was strictly for men and not for women. Nevertheless, Blessing persisted and when her parents noticed she was not going to give up, they began to encourage her.
“I graduated top of my training class and was immediately offered a job with EKEDC. I love my job and I look forward to work every day. Most women who see me say they admire my courage.”
“My advice for any aspiring female line worker is to make sure you have the passion for the job because without passion, you may give up along the way. For example, during the one-year training, there were 22 women in my program, but one-by-one, 20 of them quit.”
“It is passion that makes you excited to come to work every morning.”