Women Are Breaking The Glass Ceiling -The Story Of Female Kekeh Rider By: Julius Konton

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Liberia located on the West Coast of Africa has historically been a male dominant country in culture, tradition and practice. Over the period, all sectors of the country have been actively and dominantly occupied by males. However, the paradigm appears to be gradually shifting especially with the involvement of women in key sectors, including the occupying of strategic positions in government and the private sector. Even though the gap is still wide, women’s  focus to be represented in other sectors is  not impossible to be achieved especially with the gradual progress being made. Currently and unlike before, women of Liberia are now making their presence felt in the transport sector. The transport sector is now witnessing the active participation of women especially in the local traffic space. With the introduction of tricycles and motorbikes in the commercial sector, women are now braving the storm to help empower themselves and one of such strong and determined Liberian woman is Clavenda M. Yallay. As 2019 graduate from the United Methodist University in Sociology and Management, she is now one of the active, strong and determined commercial kekeh riders. With few days into the field, Clavenda narrated that it has been challenging but at the same time rewarding for her. “Some people commend me when they see me in the traffic and some people bully me and ask me lots of questions because it is relatively strange to see a woman in the traffic in Liberia least to talk about riding kekeh but I keep my focus,” she added. According to her, she got involved into the sector after one of her sons whom she trusted let her down. ” I am also a local contractor and I raised some money over the period which I used to get a loan in order to get into the tricycle business,  I entrusted one of my sons but he failed to live up to the agreement so in order to pay the people money which I took as a loan, I myself got into the traffic,” she further explained.

Mardea as she is normally called, used her skill as a driver and former motor cycle rider to take just a day to get adjusted into the kekeh riding and is now helping herself in the absence of a paid job as a university graduate. She  indicated that she is now plying on the Dry Rice Market to Johnsonville road as well as Mount Barclay Junction including Barnesville to Junction and to Dixville  where she is so far familiar with. “As a lady, I ride along these routes and I make use of the pavement of the road to make my money,” she added. She explained further that as a female kekeh operator, she normally begins work at 8am and close at 7pm for security and safety reasons. “I make 4,000.00 to 5,000ld daily and I save some of the money in order to pay the people loan and the balance I use it for my family, I have one girl child, four years old and she is in  school, ” she  narrated. Mardea who is one of the very few female kekeh riders in Liberia,  is now making use of the transport sector to help her family as she anticipates getting a bigger job as per her qualification as a graduate of Sociology and Management.  She, at the same time, stated that as a licensed Custom Brooker and a contractor, but without contract now, she is hoping for the best especially if given the chance and opportunity to serve or for possible contracts including employment. “The country is what it is now but we need not to fold our hands; we have to look for means to make a living in the absence of jobs,” she encouraged her female colleagues and male counterparts. According to her, and unlike before, women of Liberia are now taking the bull by the horn and are exploring all other fields and avenue in order to gradually get on par with their male counterparts, “There is no other time but the time is now, we need to make use of every opportunity in order to actively impact the larger society,” she emphasized.  Mardea is a single parent riding kekeh to support her family as she hopes for the =bigger picture to come. Like Mardea, there are other strong productive and passionate Liberian women who are braving the storm and are trying to make impact into the larger society whilst breaking the glass ceiling and to avoid doing business as usual.

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