Skills and Technical Education Programme (STEP) has said increased uptake of technical education is key to women empowerment.

STEP Gender and Education Specialist Jean Munro, has, to this end, implored girls and women to choose technical education as one way of becoming self-reliant.

STEP, an initiative funded by the European Union (EU) and partially implemented by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to strengthen vocational and technical education in Malawi.

Munro said this as Malawi joins the rest of the World in commemorating International Women’s Day.

“Technical education is for anyone who chooses it and should not be guided by your gender but by your passion and interest.

“I strongly encourage girls and women to look beyond social and cultural norms and to identify what they would like to do, building on their strengths and opportunities.  Girls need to seek a career that will allow them to be themselves.  This may be a career as a scientist, electrician, politician, activist, or plumber,” said Munro.

Munro observed that at the moment, girls and women are seeing that technical education is a way to have a stable income and to be financially independent.

“We strongly encourage women to be financially independent and having a technical skill is one way to become independent.  As we see more women-run construction and renewable energy businesses, young women are able to see the possibilities with technical education.  Through counselling, outreach events, and bursaries, there is an increase in applications to enroll in technical education,” she explained.

She also urged community members to encourage women and girls to choose technical education.

Munro adds,” One of the biggest challenge young women tell me they face with technical education is the attitudes held by community members and family about what women are capable of doing and what is acceptable areas of work for women.  These attitudes not only keep women in a small box and restrict them from reaching their potential but it also stifles the community and country.”

She stated that with technical education, women and girls are able to start their own businesses and become financially independent.

“Moreover, as we see more women working in technical areas, we are breaking stereotypes. There is no such thing as a “woman’s job” or a “man’s job”. Do not hold yourself back and do not let anyone hold you back,” she said.

Triza Malemusi, a student at Mponela Community Technical College doing plumbing also urged girls to choose technical education.

“There are two advantages of technical skills, you can either get employed or start your own business,” said a 23-year-old student from Traditional Authority Kanyenda in Nkhotakota district.