“Nothing is impossible: Margaret John Othow, Electrician

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Margaret Othow, an electrician working with UNMISS in Malakal, speaks about being the only woman in her team and choosing to train in what is considered an unusual profession for women in South Sudan. Photo by Samson Liberty/UNMISS

9 Mar 2023

“Nothing is impossible: Margaret John Othow, Electrician

Priyanka Chowdhury

UPPER NILE - Margaret John Othow has chosen an unusual profession – she’s an electrician. A diploma holder in public electricity works from a vocational training center in Malakal, Upper Nile, she specializes in electrical work for homes, especially in air conditioning and refrigeration solutions. She currently works with the Engineering Section in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

“I know its an unusual field for a woman to choose to study,” says the 30-year-old with a smile. “But I’ve always had a technical bent of mind.”

After undergoing vocational training for three years, her first job as an electrician was with the Upper Nile University where she rewired the entire girls’ dormitory to ensure an uninterrupted supply of electricity for students.

Now, Margaret is the only woman contractor working with electrical supplies in the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Malakal.

“I have been working with UNMISS for a while now and I’m the only woman in my team,” she reveals.

Does that challenge her in any way?

Absolutely not, reveals the feisty and talented 30-year-old. “We have very open and versatile team dynamics. I learn from my colleagues and they respect me a lot as well. In the field of electrical work, you must trust each other because it can be dangerous – wiring can be old and frayed plus the weather in Malakal also does damage. So you have to be careful and look out for each other to avoid severe electrocution or burns,” she states seriously.

However, Margaret does admit to having a few minor issues when she first joined an all-male team. “I was young and not very experienced. I’d often be too shy and reticent in voicing my opinions. As time passed, my colleagues began realizing that I’m good at my job and I also became more confident in my craft,” she recalls.

Despite naysayers, Margaret has determinedly proved herself in a field which is often considered to be a male bastion.

Her message for women and girls across South Sudan: “Remember, nothing is impossible. Enroll in vocational trainings and become economically independent.”