Now Reading
Colombia’s first female electrical line workers train to keep the lights on

Colombia’s first female electrical line workers train to keep the lights on

Marianela Hernández Valencia grew up in a house without electricity, but today the 28-year-old is among 15 women hoping to graduate as one of Colombia’s first-ever intake of apprentice linewomen, in La Ceja, a small town about 40km southeast of Medellín, Colombia’s second-largest city.

According to Instelec and Salomón Durán, graduates of the year-long pilot project, led by ISA, Latin America’s largest energy transmission company, with the training group Tener Futuro Corporation, are guaranteed a job with one of two contractors. Students are taught about safety, rigging and knot tying, all in a hands-on environment.

As more companies seek to diversify the workplace, it may seem there has never been a better time for women to enter the trade. Yet, few consider applying. The organisers of the scheme have announced that they aim to change that by targeting the apprenticeships solely at women and providing a safe space for them to learn. A week after the call went out for female applicants, 723 had registered interest.

“I’ve always been drawn to electrical work,” says Hernández Valencia, who once worked as an electrician’s assistant. “That feeling you get when you’re able to help switch the light back on and seeing the kids’ faces light up – it’s indescribable.”

“You need to be able to keep a cool head, especially when something unexpected happens and you’re high up a tower,” says Lizarazo Moreno.

“For the first few weeks when we arrived, we overlapped with another group of trainees – men – and my partner wasn’t happy about it. Having first insisted I sign up, he was suddenly telling me to choose between him and the training,” she says. “I chose to continue training.” Hernández Valencia’s refusal to give up her course and the subsequent breakdown of her relationship have made her all the more determined. Her teachers say she is an outstanding student, and is emerging as a group leader.

Source: The Guardian