Vocational training for women on architectural sites

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The second largest industry in India, the construction industry is a major contributor to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Unfortunately, it represents less than 25% of the female force. Keeping that appalling number aside for a moment, let me ask you: how often do you see women working as carpenters or electricians on architectural sites?

Most women on construction sites are employed to haul stones, bricks and earth for minimum wage. However, even for odd jobs on the construction site, men are paid more than women for the same task. Consequently, gender biases and disparities in salary structure prove disheartening for women working across the country on construction sites. Additionally, being part of an industry that plays a significant role in shaping our country’s economy, women must strive for a safe and comfortable environment onsite.

Physical comfort is also of utmost importance, but unfortunately construction equipment – clothing, helmets, jackets, etc. – are designed for the physique of men. While women are expected to perform the same tasks, the site equipment is impractical. Apart from being migrant workers, these women usually do not have the education or knowledge to ask for better facilities, as they usually become a “helping hand” for their husbands there.

On the positive side, some NGOs are actively working to educate and provide better living conditions for female construction workers, sensitize all stakeholders, review policies and conduct vocational training programs. Architects should offer to streamline this process by talking about providing vocational training for women so that they can move up the ladder from unskilled tasks to professional jobs on site. This change would allow women, many of whom are migrants, to create a better life for themselves, allow equality on construction sites and make them safer. We, as architects, should become the voice to bridge the gap between female leaders and female construction workers to facilitate a better future for female workers. The first and most crucial step in this direction would be to increase awareness of potential employment opportunities on-site with a streamlined training course to educate them. Apart from that, we also need to be open-minded to enable this change for working women across the country.



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Disclaimer

The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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