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Jeanette Salazar, pioneer for the group of female welders at AKVA Group in Puerto Montt, Chile. Photo: AKVA.
Jeanette Salazar, pioneer for the group of female welders at AKVA Group in Puerto Montt, Chile. Photo: AKVA.

Aquaculture supplier AKVA group has taken a blowtorch to gender stereotypes by employing 23 women as welders making pens and walkways in its workshops in Chile.

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They have been trained thanks to a program of female inclusion that has been successfully in place for a year, and that is promoting sustainable development.

“We want to see more empowered women working in the salmon industry. For a year we have been developing inclusion and training projects for women in the welding area, to create excellent products, with the best welders from both genders,” said Andrew Campbell, regional president of AKVA group for America, UK, and Australasia.

A special bond: women welders in AKVA's workshop. Click photo to enlarge. Photo: AKVA.
A special bond: women welders in AKVA's workshop. Click photo to enlarge. Photo: AKVA.

AKVA academy

The women were trained in the AKVA academy which initially offered men-only courses, then mixed classes, and finally, the first women-only course. “This is a call for women to accomplish everything they set their minds on, and we are willing to accompany them in this process. Sustainability is also about people, collaboration among local people and the local communities”, Campbell said.

“Could I do it?” wondered Jeanette Salazar, food technician and secretary, and now a pioneer of the nocturnal female welders in AKVA group Chile.

“I never imagined working in something like this. I had to prove to myself that I could do it. The world is changing. And this is a major turn, very important and positive for me. It was hard in the beginning because it was an area full of men and tough work, and today I really enjoy it. I feel integrated and capable of performing in any area.”

Six months’ training

In welding, the women specialise in raw material, structure, and accessories, receiving training over six months, to produce pens and walkways for the local and export markets.

AKVA has more than 350 people working in Chile, including 46 women in different areas. At the beginning of the program, there was a concern that it would not work, but today it has been successful. “We are going to change what is considered normal. In AKVA group we recognise the female contribution and celebrate their participation”, concluded Campbell.

Some of the 23 women welders now employed by AKVA in Chile. Photo: AKVA.
Some of the 23 women welders now employed by AKVA in Chile. Photo: AKVA.
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