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Wife and mom jumpstarts her career in a male-dominated sector

Monserrat Ojeda overcame gender stereotypes and launched a career in motorcycle mechanics in Paraguay

By Brianne Binelli (with files from Rosanna Menchaca, CCFC communications manager, Paraguay)

Monserrat Ojeda has big plans for her career, and they go beyond cleaning house, cooking or taking care of her family at home in Paraguay. “My dream is to have a well-equipped motorcycle shop,” says the 27-year-old.

Recent World Bank statistics show women comprise 39 percent of Paraguay’s workforce, and Ojeda is joining the ranks as a motorcycle mechanic — an important job in a country where the machines are a main mode of transport. “I always liked motorcycles,” and used to tinker with my husband’s bike, she says, explaining why she jumped at the chance to take a motorcycle mechanic’s course offered through Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, local Asunción-based Fundación Alda and a governmental training office. “It was a great opportunity to learn and earn money without leaving home,” she says.

The mother-of-two wasn’t deterred when she discovered she was the only female in a class of 30. “I was gratified to challenge myself to learn a trade that [had previously] only been offered to men in my community,” Ojeda says.

Thankfully, she was welcomed by her peers and supported by her husband who looked after their children while she attended the three-month course five evenings a week. Men don’t often take care of their children in Paraguay, but Ojeda’s husband was proud of his wife who learned about the motorcycle clutch, fuel and electric systems, shock absorbers and more.

Today, the mechanic is working out of her home, earning between $5 and $18 per job. Of course, it will take time to build the business, and Ojeda admits there are other challenges, too — like being a woman in a male-dominated sector. But, she’s grateful. “My life has changed,” she says. “[My family has] opportunities we did not have before.”

The entrepreneur’s dream to own a thriving motorcycle shop is becoming a reality.