Voices: Tezy Nguizani-A-Tezo

“The most difficult part of my job is being accepted and respected as a female engineer.” - Tezy Nguizani-A-Tezo, UNOPS Site Engineer, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo)

I have been a Site Engineer for UNOPS in DR Congo for almost a year. In this role, I am responsible for overseeing technical studies and monitoring works for a project that aims to revive the agricultural sector and improve food security in the north west of the country.

I spend most of my time in the field rather than at the office. Life on the road isn't easy and living conditions are tough. Very often, I have to conduct studies on roads in remote areas. I sometimes have to travel nearly 200 kilometres by motorbike – a six- to seven-hour-long journey – just to reach the worksite. In those situations I usually spend more than 10 days in the field, in a village not far from the site. That's the reality on the ground.

Joining the large UNOPS family really allowed me to forge my personality, my character and my vision of life; it brought out the best in me. My team is really supportive and keeps me going, especially in tough times. The field is so far removed from urban areas; in rural areas, people still think a woman's place is in the household, raising children. Women don't have a say in important decisions. This is why I always have to explain to local communities that I am an engineer, just like my male colleagues. It is not about being a woman or a man, we are all engineers.

The best part of my job is getting to see first-hand the concrete result of our work: better living conditions for local communities. Thanks to the roads rehabilitated by UNOPS, people can easily transport their agricultural products to local markets. The roads also help reduce unemployment (even temporarily) because we hire local workers.

What I find most rewarding is seeing the proud look on people's faces – women in particular –when they see me supervising works on the ground. These visits allow me to encourage young women in rural areas to take part in our projects, for example by participating in trainings to lead our local teams.

No matter where they live, girls and women can make a difference not only in the DR Congo but also around the world in general. My advice to them would be to keep hope alive, because tomorrow will be brighter. Those who have the opportunity to go to school must aim even higher. Just like the men in our country, women can also become professionals, or even engineers, like me!