Breaking Ground, Building Dreams: A Woman's Journey in Heavy Equipment Operation

Emily Mumba, a heavy equipment operator, breaks stereotypes and empowers others in her male-dominated field. Read her journey and dream big — one machine at a time.

The rumble of engines and the dance of steel against the earth are often associated with a specific image: a world dominated by men. But in the heart of this traditionally male-dominated industry, women like Emily Mumba a heavy equipment operator at the Kitwe Vocational Training Centre are rewriting the narrative, leaving behind a trail of shattered stereotypes and ignited aspirations.

Her story is not just a chronicle of resilience, but a beacon of hope, illuminating the path for countless women considering careers in heavy equipment operation.

Early in life, she faced challenges head-on, navigating the complexities of life beyond the traditional expectations placed on young women. “I got married at a very young age, but things did not work out,” she shares candidly. Yet, amidst these adversities, her passion for heavy equipment operation remained undimmed, ignited by a chance encounter that would forever alter her trajectory. “I was inspired after seeing a young boy, age 17, operating an excavator,” she recalls, her voice carrying the echo of that transformative moment. It was a testament to the fact that dreams hold no weight in the face of gender, a seed firmly planted in the fertile ground of her ambition.

Navigating a landscape predominantly occupied by men, she found solace in the support of her brother, who became her guiding light. “I don’t have a female mentor, but I will say my brother is,” she acknowledges with a hint of warmth.

Together, they embarked on a journey fuelled by determination and a shared vision. Her path was not without its obstacles, as she encountered the harsh realities of a male-dominated workplace. From feeling invisible amidst a sea of male colleagues to facing the sting of unequal treatment and recognition, she persevered, her spirit bolstered by a diverse skillset encompassing the intricacies of heavy equipment operation, equipment maintenance, and adherence to safety procedures.

Her dedication and expertise have transcended boundaries, propelling her beyond the confines of her role. She has become a beacon of inspiration within her community. “I even had an opportunity to fly to Japan for the first time because of the same job I’m doing,” she shares with a radiant smile, reflecting on her journey as a Master Trainer in Heavy Equipment Operation at KVTC Project.

This journey, however, transcends personal achievements; it is about paving the way for others to follow suit. With pride, she speaks of her role as a mentor, a testament to her commitment to empowering other women. “I feel good and supportive to other women,” she declares, her voice brimming with conviction. This dedication has already ignited a spark in the hearts of 20 women, inspiring them to pursue careers in this traditionally male-dominated field.

Her message to aspiring women is a clarion call, an echo of self-belief and fortitude. “Respect yourself and stand firm,” she emphasizes, her voice resonating with strength. In a male-dominated environment, she advocates for the importance of maintaining self-respect and setting clear boundaries. “Don’t compromise your value or self-worth,” she insists. This conviction, she believes, holds the key not only to earning the respect they deserve but also to contributing to a more inclusive and equitable industry, where women’s voices and expertise are no longer relegated to the sidelines.

As women continue to carve their paths in traditionally male-dominated fields like heavy equipment operation, it is imperative to celebrate their contributions and amplify their voices. As we celebrate the United Nations International Women’s Day under the theme, “Invest in women: Accelerate progress,” her story serves as a powerful reminder that investing in women and girls is not just the right thing to do, it is essential for building a more prosperous and equitable future for all. Let her story be a catalyst for change, a beacon that illuminates the path for countless women to dream big, break down barriers, and build their own dreams, one mighty machine at a time.