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Nigeria: The young woman breaking gender bias with her phone tech repair shop

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Mafa community in Borno state, Northern Nigeria was among many towns that suffered attacks from the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists which killed many, plunged others into terrible conditions and hardship and forced to thousands to flee.

Today, a lot has changed for the small town and that includes the presence of a popular first female phone technician Falmata Usman who witnessed the havocs that had stricken the town some years back. 

Despite some backlash and resistance from the community, the 23 year old believed in women rights and gender equality.

"I was schooling before I learned the skill, after graduating from school I was at home doing until years later I developed interest and inspiration in fixing phones and as you can see Alhamdulilah I can take care of myself and also those around me" says Usman. 

Many residents of Mafa community now patronize her services yet some have never stopped expressing surprise at the young lady's technical expertise.

One of them Babagana Mogu says he had tried unsuccesfully to repair his phone until he found Falmata. "I’ve had issues fixing my phone I suffered trying to repair the phone I took it to four different places for repair". Another customer Maringo Kaffi testifies to Falmata's work. "Their work is very good here, it shows progress. It will really help her and those around her. I’ve seen women engage in such kind of work. If she teaches other girls they too will teach others and this means progress for our community".

Falmata’s bold move has dubbed her a local hero in a village setting that's different from that of most Nigerian women who are allowed to work and occupy office positions. But here in Mafa, women especially Muslims focus on house chores and taking care of children. 

“I will advise women not to sit at home idle, even if you’re married or a young lady it’s not expected of you to be idle especially when you have kids. You don’t have to depend on your husband to provide your needs, life now is not easy" she says. "Yes the father will provide for his children and you but it’ll be good you play your role like doing business no matter how small it is…small beginnings grows into something big” Falmata added.

Although Nigeria moved 16 places up in the ranking of the global gender gap index 2022 compared to 2021, it still has a gender gap of 63.9% acording to the World Gender Gap report. 

Africanews correspondent Bitrus Kurutsi in Borno state reports that many in Mafa town are inspired by the Falmata and believe that they too can rise poverty if they can only take on such a bold move in a field that's traditionally believed to be for men in their community.

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