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Meet S. Sudanese female welder who venture in male-dominated field

Author: Charles Wote | Published: Thursday, November 17, 2022

Mary Poni, 28, holding her handwork at a workshop in Juba on Tue 15th November 2022. Photo Credit: Charles Wote/Eye Radio

The 28-year-old Mary Poni appeared to be among the few young women in the country venturing in a male dominated welding industry.

Two years ago, the mother of two joined the welding sector and started by learning how to paint fabricated metallic doors and windows.

“I am so happy that I have learned this work because this work has helped me do many things.” Poni told Eye Radio, Tuesday in an interview.

“At first, I worked in a Shisha place, even in a bar. I worked in a restaurant, and I came to realize that as a woman, if I reach 40 years or if I reach 35 years will I still be working in a place of Shisha? She partly asked herself.

Welding is a critical construction-related activity that is generally used for binding materials of different types together through the application of heat.

It is also a fabrication process that involves the usage of high temperature, pressure or both to fuse two parts of a metal.

For the last few years, welding sector in South Sudan has been dominated by men while some women believe it is hard for them to do the work.

“The first time I went to the workshop, I saw people working and I feared and I was like how will I manage to work with men and I am a lady.” Mary Poni narrates her she developed passion to join the welding industry.

Generally, welding sector require skills and practical knowledge for the joints to look good and polished in terms of appearance.

This is done when using heat and pressure over the base material which enables quick and efficient fabrication.

Poni said she uses a welding torch that has a connection of fuel gas and valve for oxygen, a handle for grasp and a mixing chamber where the fuel gas and oxygen mix with a tip where the flame forms.

After measuring each material, Poni said she also use an angel grinder, a kind of a rotating disc for grinding, polishing, cutting, sharpening and cleaning difficult materials used in making a door, window or any other item required by her customer.

Though ended in Senior two, Poni said she is now making metallic doors and windows of different types including sliding gates, opening gates and other swings.

“I am fixing metallic windows, doors such as sliding and those swings even opening, I am doing all of them.”

Mary Poni using a welding torch to fix a double door at her workshop on Tuesday 15th Nov 2022. Credit: Charles Wote/Eye Radio

Working in a welding industry

Before joining the welding industry in 2020, Mary Poni said she was a tea vendor, Shisha seller and a bar attendant.

The previous work, according to Poni, was unable to help cater for her needs and that of other family members.

Being a mother of two, Poni said “I am really happy for this work because at that time I was selling tea and, in a day, I was working for 1,000 pounds.”

“Now if you find a window which is ready, I charge 60,000 pounds and a door which is ready, it is 80,000 pounds and if it is double, it is 100,000 pounds.” Poni reveals.

For the last two years, Poni has been around talented and passionate people who are an inspiration for gaining a thorough understanding of welding.

Even though the environment in the workshop is different compared to Poni’s previous work, she however feels the transition is smooth.

Mary Poni is now encouraging fellow women to move away from traditional work and join technical activities to earn a living.

“Let them not mind that this work is for men or this one is for ladies. Let them try every work including technical work.

“Even if you don’t have money to pay for that technical course, at least you go to a nearer workshop or any place that you see is as comfortable as the way I did.”  

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