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Published: October 3, 2022

Lwala security guard Caroline Orwa: defying gender norms while caring for her family

When Caroline Atieno Orwa saw the job posting for Lady Security Guard, or “Lady Soldier,” at Lwala Community Alliance in 2016, she applied immediately. Widowed just a year before and a mother of 4 children, Caroline was no stranger to breadwinning for her family. Plus, she had already been trained as a security guard. Securing the post at Lwala meant something of utmost importance to Caroline as the head of her household–the ability to pay school fees for her kids.

Being a woman in this line of work carries extra challenges. Many businesses hold stigmas about women as security guards and don’t believe they can do the job. Additionally, Caroline wanted a position that allowed her to work day shifts–she didn’t want to leave her children alone at night. At Lwala where she works the day shift, she has the space in her life to be available to her children, the oldest of whom is now a senior in nursing school.

As the first female security guard to be employed by Lwala, Caroline is a pacesetter. She has inspired other women to take on this role and to apply for opportunities when they arise. Now, Lwala has two female security officers. “People have come to respect me and my work. I am now a role model to women in my community, because I have proven I can serve in the same job capacity as men. More women will have the confidence to compete for these opportunities,” she says.

Outside of her security team duties, Caroline doubles as a driver when needed, especially during community outreaches in hard-to-reach areas. She was also a key player in Lwala Community Hospital’s Covid-19 pandemic response. “During the height of COVID-19, Caroline was required to keep an orderly flow of all walk-in patients and their relatives,” says Robert Kasambala, Lwala’s Chief of Staff. “She ensured strict observance of the prevention measures we put in place. Reducing the hospital visiting population was one of the security team’s most challenging responsibilities during this time, and yet she managed the situation very well. Caroline's dedication to her work–during the good times and the tough times–is an example to many. She treats everyone with respect, even as she executes her duties. We are very glad she's on our team.”  

Caroline’s face lights up when she speaks of her work and what it means for her family. “Working at Lwala has put my boy through University! I like working at Lwala, and next I want to be a driver. In my mind, I know I can do all these things–be a driver; be a policewoman. I like wearing a uniform. I’m proud of this work, and I’m proud of myself.” 

“Caroline is good at taking care of all the security officers–ensuring that we are all hygienic and look professional in our uniforms, and that our space here is clean. She’s very focused at work; always watching attentively. She has great character.”
Jorum Odiero, Head of Security Team

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