Women can excel in any industry, whether they work in a white or blue-collar profession. These are the words of Fiji National University’s apprentice, Afiel Alisha Khan.
The 22-year-old has taken on the challenge to break stereotypes and smash the glass ceiling.
Khan works in a challenging environment that necessitates electrical skills. She is currently part of the National Apprenticeship Scheme and is working as an Electrical Engineering (Fitter Mechanic) apprentice at Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited.
According to the apprentice, women should not be afraid to apply for male-dominated jobs as times have changed and females have proven to be as capable as their male counterparts in all areas of work.
“As a woman in the twenty-first century, I feel that gender should have no bearing on a job. Today, men and women have equal rights, and it is only fair to allow women to engage in such trades to promote variety and advancement in the workplace. No career should be gender-specific today because men and women are equally capable of doing the same jobs,” she explained.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow,” emphasised the crucial link between gender, social justice, and climate change, recognising that without gender equality now, a sustainable and equal future will be unattainable.
Khan believes individuals must overcome bias in order for the world to become a fairer and more inclusive place to live, free of inequality, stereotypes, and discrimination while recognising and valuing both men and women.
She added that every woman should be allowed the freedom to live without fear of tyranny in any given scenario, whether she is doing domestic duties or working in a maledominated sector.
This equality is essential to preventing violence against women and girls and ensuring their success in life.
“Being in a male-dominated environment and having to talk with males were some of the first challenges I faced at work.”
“Furthermore, repairing motors and pumps was initially challenging, but with the ongoing guidance of my superiors, I overcame these challenges,” she stated.
“Every day, my male employees guide me through my tasks and motivate me to do better. They are supportive and helpful, frequently reminding me of workplace safety precautions and pushing me to have confidence in my profession and express my issues and thoughts openly.
“Furthermore, they are kind and treat me decently. I learn something new every day, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and work in this field.”
“As a woman, I want to encourage all women who desire to work in a field that they perceive is dominated by males to go for it and not let anything stop them.”
Khan has ambitious goals for the next five years, including becoming a successful tradeswoman at Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited.
“My father previously worked for the Vatukoula Gold Mines as a shaft clerk; also, my father’s relatives have all worked for VGML,” the former Xavier College student revealed.
“My friends and family encouraged me to pursue this job because I was always interested in this field of work.”
“Because my father and his family had previously worked in the mine, I aspired to follow in their shoes.”
Women, Khan advises, should not be discouraged from applying because they are afraid of working in a male-dominated environment.