Sophia Piath Martin is a 27-year-old woman from South Sudan by an unusual profession—she is a plumber at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Based in the United Nations Peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Rumbek, Lakes state, Sophia grew up without a father.
“I was raised by my mother and she taught me not to be afraid,” she says with a smile.
This was evident when he spoke about his struggles to gain professional qualifications in the fields of construction, water and sanitation. “All the men who attended the same course at first looked down on me very much,” recalls Sophia.
“Some even asked me why I wanted to learn a man’s trade. But I believe that when you commit to doing something unique and unusual, you are more likely to succeed,” he added with a smile.
That wasn’t the only challenge Sophia faced. “As the eldest child, many family members did not want me to finish my education. All they wanted was for me to get married, but I insisted. I wanted to stand on my own two feet,” he recalls.
Sophia’s optimism and abilities soon changed the minds of her family, her coursemates and her supervisor and now, the latter continues to guide her.
What he clearly remembers from the civil wars of 2013 and 2016 was the sound of gunfire.
“You never really get over the sound of a gun going off. It’s scary. Many of my relatives were in Juba at the time and we were very worried about them, so when the peace agreement was signed, it looked like South Sudan was getting a new life,” admits Sophia.
As conflict continues to rage in this young nation, Sophia hopes that long-lasting inclusive peace will one day become a reality for all South Sudanese.
According to her, education and economic empowerment for women and girls are very important for the progress of the country.
“It all starts with education and skills development. Women and men have the same abilities. It’s just that boys have traditionally had more access to education and job opportunities while girls have been left behind,” he said.
“We all have to work together to change this mindset and that transformation starts at home. If every family in South Sudan commits to give equal opportunities to their sons and daughters, then women’s rights will not only be consistently enforced but also will create inclusive peace,” Sophia said excitedly.
On International Women’s Day, this determined young woman has an inspiring message for young women and girls: “Dream big and believe in yourself. The sky is the limit of what girls and women can achieve.”
Distributed by the APO Group on behalf of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
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“Everything Begins With Education” – Sophia Piath Martin, Plumber, South Sudan
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