The Plumber Who’s Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes in Burkina Faso

Pre-teen pregnancy hurdle: Bibata’s is a unique story. Her life is not easy. She was born in the Ivory Coast but was sent to Kaya, Burkina Faso, to live with her grandmother after falling pregnant in year six of primary school by a boy her own age. Her parents were incredibly angry at the situation and Bibata was given $100 and sent to a country she had never known, to manage her life as best she could. 

Determination to learn: Bibata started selling groundnuts and mangoes to make a living, and spent some of her earnings taking evening classes. It wasn’t long until she passed her primary school completion exam. When she found out about Plan International’s vocational training courses for youths who are not in school, she immediately applied, with plumbing as her first choice. She embarked on the course with 22 other students, 21 of whom were boys. Bibata continued taking evening classes in order to obtain her high school diploma—and with grit and determination, she eventually achieved both. She immediately started work as a plumber, becoming the only woman in that capacity in her town. 

Sexual harassment sadly prevalent: Today, Bibata employs two young people like herself. Sadly, her daily challenges are not just work-related. She often finds herself confronted with unscrupulous clients who engage in sexual harassment and indecent proposals. “I stop them by asking them if they would dare behave this way if I was a man,” she says. In 2016, Kaya hosted the country’s itinerant independence celebrations. Many new infrastructures were built and Bibata obtained several major plumbing contracts, which boosted her business. 

Learning to lead and thrive: Her ambition is to touch on everything related to homebuilding: “I want to become the most prominent female entrepreneur in Burkina Faso,” she told Plan International’s Country Director, Rotimy Djossaya, when he visited her workshop.

“Our ambition is to help 100 million girls learn, lead, decide. and thrive,” said Djossaya, adding, “I think we have our first success story right here.” 

You can download the official case study document, images, and video here; Sheboard video and Bibata video

Story previously posted here.

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