Forging Her Path as a Woman Blacksmith
Aya the Iron Woman
August 17, 2023
Aya is a 25-year-old woman from Aleppo, Syria, who decided to take up welding as a profession. Being orphaned and displaced due to the war, her sense of determination, persistence and passion about exploring everything new made her stand up on her two feet. In less than four months at the Metal Centre in Aleppo, and despite her young age, she mastered the skills needed to work as a blacksmith, a job that has long been male-dominated.
“The opportunity presented itself for me to learn and work, and I took it,” said Aya. “I wanted to live that experience, although the blacksmith profession is considered a hard profession that requires precision at work and patience,” she added. Aya faced many challenges, but the encouragement and support she received along the way enabled her to continue. “I was determined to walk down that road despite the difficulties. I learned the profession and earned the respect of my trainers and colleagues,” said Aya.
Aya spent four months in training, where she learned how to use arc and gas welding, assembling metal pieces, forming geometric shapes, and metal inert gas (MIG) and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. “My first job was welding a small water tank. I then had the opportunity to work at the Hand in Hand Charity, where I supported the manufacturing of accessibility aids. My shift was from eight in the morning till four in the afternoon,” Aya added.
With support from the Government of Germany, through its Development Bank KfW, the United Nations Development Programme in Syria is empowering youth and enhancing their access to the labour market through vocational and skills training that fosters youth talent and employment support services that increase their chances of employability. The training provided at the Metal Training Centre responded to the specific needs of the job market. In-demand and up-to-date vocational and skills training was provided to more than 100 men and women. After the completion of the training, 100% of the graduate trainees received job opportunities in the local market.
“I did not face any difficulties during the training period because there were always those who encouraged and urged me to continue working. What used to sometimes bother me is being asked about my reason for entering this field as a woman or how I can deal with hard cast iron and fire,” Aya explains. “I answered by asking why would it be a surprise to try everything new. There is no difference between a man and a woman as long as we live in one society. You and I complement each other, and this applies to work. I can learn just like you. Indeed after the end of the course, I excelled in my work and proved to them that I can go into this field that is considered a man's world”.
Today, Aya feels happy, content and enjoys her work. She is a source of pride to her brothers, mentors, and colleagues because she has proven that she is a strong woman who pursued her dream and withstood all obstacles. “I want to be the first Syrian woman to open a blacksmith's workshop, build a name for myself in this field (forming and forging metal pieces) and have my own clients. I want to name it "Iron Woman". It is the nickname I was given by my colleagues at work”.
Aya is just like many other women and girls with the potential and dreams they want to pursue. “ My advice to every woman who wants to pursue a male-dominated career is to go for it, even if it is difficult or arduous or if you face resistance from society. Have the confidence, determination and faith to excel in the field you love most”.
“ My advice to every woman who wants to pursue a male-dominated career is to go for it, even if it is difficult or arduous or if you face resistance from society. Have the confidence, determination and faith to excel in the field you love most”.Aya