Madam Plumber - an Agile Program Allowing Women to Access More Occupational Options
Updated: May 1, 2019
#SDG5 - Gender Equality
#SDG8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
#SDG11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
◆Implementation Period: 2017 - Present ◆A Glance of Gender Equality Policy of NTCG:
◆Background Due to gender stereotypes, many women are deprived of the chance of learning about basic plumbing or electric repairs. Therefore, many women feel at the loss when the plumbing or electrical systems in their homes breakdown. To resolve this issue and subvert gender stereotypes, a survey was sent between February 3 and February 20, 2017 to women who live in New Taipei City and are above the age of 15. The results of the survey revealed that the respondents found drain blockages, burnt or flickering lightbulbs, running water in the toilet tank, leaky faucets, and toilet blockages extremely troubling. The majority of these concerns stem from a lack of practice in and understanding of repairs, and a fear of plumbing and electricity. However, when asked if they were willing to learn about plumbing and electrical repairs, 70% of women responded positively.
◆Program introduction A course titled “Women Can Repair” was launched to subvert the stereotype that men are in charge of household plumbing and electrical repairs. Women Can Repair, launched in 2017, included lectures and hands-on classes. Students were recruited from four administrative districts, with near 40% aged between 50 and 60 years old. In some classes, more than half were in the age bracket of 50-60. Ultimately, a total of 114 students completed the course.
The first class was about the basic principles of electricity, stripping wires, and connecting wires. This class enabled students to develop a better understanding of electricity. The students also had the chance to practice stripping and connecting wires, which helped them put theory into practice. In addition to stripping and connecting wires, the students also had the opportunity to practice circuit switching with a toolkit during the second class. The third class was centered on introducing plumbing equipment and hands-on activities, where students practiced changing faucets.
When recalling the process of teaching at Women Can Repair, a professional plumber said, “People usually are scared of electricity, but I found that many of these ladies were willing to touch a small electrical current just three classes in. It is rare to have such a hands-on opportunity to learn things, and they have been so involved and proactive throughout the entire process.”
◆Contribute to neighborhood
After nine hours of basic training, the students understood relevant theories and concepts. Following basic training, a total of 79 students visited 19 senior citizens who either lived by themselves or were underprivileged and learned how to conduct plumbing and electrical repairs. As one student mentioned, “The course and hands-on activities were really helpful; women are perfectly capable of doing what men usually do.”
Women Can Repair was an ideal example of subverting gender stereotypes. “Bold for change” should not be merely a slogan; action is what leads to change. According to one student, “Plumbing isn’t that difficult, it’s just that we didn’t understand plumbing. But now, fixing switches, light tubes, and toilets has become my new skill set!”
After the pilot training project was carried out in 4 administrative districts in 2017, at least five local women’s (social welfare) groups will be assisted by the government in organizing home plumbing and electrical repair courses in 2018. Different levels of teaching plans will be established according to a standard operating procedure, and participants who complete the training will be introduced to community service. The training program is expected to be linked to vocational training for electricians and plumbers in the future. With such practical courses focusing on issues in daily life, women are empowered, and gender awareness is further promoted at a community level.