Empowering women in a male-dominated sector in Gabon

We worked with ARISE to pilot a training project for women to take up traditionally male-dominated operator roles of heavy vehicles within its Gabon ports and challenge gender stereotypes.

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ARISE operates across Africa, managing infrastructure and logistics services, including overseeing the Owendo Mineral Port in Gabon. Recognising the untapped potential of women’s participation in traditionally male-dominated sectors, ARISE approached us in 2019 with an innovative proposal. The initiative sought to pilot a “train-and-hire” project, empowering women to step into roles as drivers and operators of heavy vehicles within its ports in Gabon. Historically associated with a male-dominated workforce, these positions often carried perceptions of being unsafe or culturally inappropriate for women.

Together, we launched an innovative project, Com’Elles, with a dual objective. First, Com’Elles aimed to present a compelling business case for investing resources in training and hiring women for male-dominated roles. Second, the project addressed multifaceted challenges deterring women from pursuing such positions. In 2022, 51 women graduated from the Com’Elles training programme. Their testimonials highlighted the project’s transformative impact, challenging stereotypes and shifting perceptions of women’s participation in a non-traditional sector.

My main challenge was technical: I always dreamed of driving heavy vehicles, but could I really? Now I know I can, and I’ve pushed my limits further – I feel empowered and I know I can do more.
– Com’Elles trainee

Com’Elles has yielded further benefits for ARISE as an organisation, laying the groundwork for further gender mainstreaming efforts across its wider business groups as well as supported its local reputation.

Click here to read the full case study


women graduated from the Com’Elles training programme