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Skills for All: Joiner Justina Ashiyana, Namibia

8 March 2017

As a joiner not just by trade, but also by nature, Justina Ashiyana was naturally attracted to participating in skills competitions – and she quickly found that they can open doors and horizons.

The Namibian was the only female participant in Joinery at her country’s National Skills Competition last year, but she refused to let the ratio of 11 men to one woman faze her. The result was a “life-changing experience”, which has helped her career and broadened her outlook.

“It enhanced my self-esteem, allowed me to learn about new techniques and technologies, and made me believe I can achieve whatever I set my mind to,” she said. “It encouraged me to realise that women can be artisans in male-dominated trades.”

“Skills competitions enable young people to see a skilled professional in action, and to discover or explore their passion. They show employers that the future of artisans depends on a sustainable, effective, and gender-balanced training system.”

Justine chose joinery because it “allows me to be creative and innovative, solution-focused and action-oriented”, and puts logic, imagination, and intuition to work. While these qualities do not respect gender barriers, she believes discrimination still exists in the trade, and hopes she can help to combat it within and beyond her profession.

“As a 21st century woman, I want to encourage other women to rise to the challenge and encourage themselves to follow their passion, irrespective of stereotypical perceptions and gender domination of certain trades,” she said. “Opportunities are made available, but perception and lack of exposure limit female participation in some trades. I hope I can be an inspiration to fellow women and that we can all achieve as much in any trade as men.”

WorldSkills is recognizing skilled women around the globe in celebration of International Women’s Day, 8 March. Join us in supporting HeForShe – a solidarity movement for gender equality, led by the United Nations.

Take the HeForShe pledge, by signing at HeForShe.org, and acknowledge that you are “one of billions… who believe that everyone is born free and equal”, and that you “will take action against gender bias, discrimination and violence to bring the benefits of equality to us all.”