Democratic Republic of Congo

Schools for Africa - Stories from the field

UNICEF
14 August 2020

A girl mechanic

Ituri, one of the 21 new provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo created in 2015 repartitioning, has been plagued by an inter-ethnic conflict since 1999, resulting in more than 50,000 deaths and 500,000 people internally displaced. In such a difficult context, half of all children do not have access to any form of education, which in turn greatly increases the vulnerability of adolescent girls, particularly those exposed to early pregnancy, early marriage, and violence.

On a warm morning in Bunia, the capital of Ituri, young people gather around several motor vehicles, each with tools in their hands and in the pockets of their blue overalls, blackened by oil and grease. These are apprentices at the Specialization of Mechanic-Drivers Centre (CSMC).

To address the idleness of young people and adolescents in Bunia, who are increasingly exposed to the risk of enlistment in armed groups and banditry, a decade ago the Division of Youth set up the CMSC under the leadership of Mr. Kavalami, who, with three trainers, hosts about 40 teenagers at any one time. Among these apprentices are Idaya and her two friends, Ruth and Rachelle, who have been attending the centre for a few months now, and are the only girls in the group.

A girl mechanic in DRC
UNICEF/2019/DRC
At 18, Idaya is the youngest of eight siblings, four of whom are already female mechanics-drivers. In her family, she will tell you, mechanics is a vocation. The boys in her neighbourhood continue to call her a “tomboy,” but she just sees herself as “a girl and a mechanic” and firmly believes that no job can be solely for men.

At 18, Idaya is the youngest of eight siblings, four of whom are already female mechanics-drivers. In her family, she will tell you, mechanics is a vocation. The boys in her neighbourhood continue to call her a “tomboy,” but she just sees herself as “a girl and a mechanic” and firmly believes that no job can be solely for men.

Idaya, a female mechanic, Ituri Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo

At 18, Idaya is the youngest of eight siblings, four of whom are already female mechanics-drivers. In her family, she will tell you, mechanics is a vocation. The boys in her neighbourhood continue to call her a “tomboy,” but she just sees herself as “a girl and a mechanic” and firmly believes that no job can be solely for men. UNICEF is committed to supporting 300 adolescent girls in Ituri province, such as Idaya, as part of a multistakeholder pilot initiative for functional literacy and vocational training. Ultimately, UNICEF will strengthen their entrepreneurship skills and support their entry into the labour market with the necessary tools and close supervision for starting their own business. Under this initiative, Idaya and her friends are hoping to run their own garage at the end of their training.