FLORENCE AND MANUELA, FLASH INTERVENTION, IVORY COAST

Florence, Flash Intervention, Ivory Coast 

“When I was hired by the Security Agents Office, there was a lot of surprise.  Many people doubted my ability to “do the job” the way a man could.  For them, “no woman could do that job”.

I know the names of the 371 security agents in my section, the client sites at which they work, and the facilities at those sites.  I need to take charge of planning and manage peoples’ moods and preoccupations.  The shift work clearly has an impact upon my family life.

We need to respect our commitments to our clients and the first of those is to be punctual at the start of the shift for our security agents. It’s out of the question to be late, and the days start early.  Believe me, you need a certain strength to tell off latecomers or to give out reminders of the rules!  I must admit, the need to have that strong character and the ability to lay down the law was a source of worry at the beginning.

Now I enjoy what I do and I’d like to go further.  Someday, being name a “Head of Zone” would be a nice comeback to those who doubted me, and would prove to some men that for women, it is our competence which matters and that we can do the same as them. I’m just hoping I get the opportunity.”

 

Manuela, Flash Intervention, Ivory Coast

“At first, being the Operations Management Assistant seemed to be a fairly administrative job: planning, suppliers, reports, etc. – all those tasks which, without thinking, everybody tends to associate with the word “assistant”.

But the word “Operations” is the key to defining the role, as in the Operations, there are 1700 security agents, 80 intervention vehicles, teams to manage, specific equipment for our activity sector, interventions to deal with if an alarm goes off, rules to be strictly applied – for the most part, by men.

You can get caught up in this profession: it’s absorbing, with unexpected situations where you need to find answers. Keeping commitments to the client can sometimes disturb your own personal plans. So while I remain involved, I also try to balance my family life. Family stability is beneficial to being a committed employee, so you need to keep a sharp eye on both parts of your life.

Even if things are evolving, it is unfortunate that because of their culture and the society to which they belong, some women have convinced even themselves that certain professions are closed to them. For me, working in a very masculine professional environment, rigor, firmness and courtesy are the whole cocktail needed to impose respect and to find one’s place.”

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