BREAKING GENDER BARRIERS FOR YOUNG WOMEN: Why We Support Women in Construction Skilled Trade.

Happiness Emwata had always wanted to be a plumber but she couldn’t get a plumbing skill class to attend without facing the barrier caused by her gender!  Centre for Community Empowerment and Sustainable Development (CESDEV) in partnership with HIRAM Design Concept Limited supported Happiness in fulfilling her dream. The story doesn’t always end this good for a lot of young women who want a career in building construction.

What is missing?

The foundations for gender and youth employment are strongly determined in equal access to education for girls and boys. Good quality education remains a key pathway to increasing women’s opportunities and to educate a woman is to educate families and societies. Without quality education chances of getting a decent job are low.

How big is the problem?

There is a global disturbing trend in women’s diminishing viability in the labour market. This is caused by the growing rates of poverty and income inequality. This trend was recently echoed in an international report. The 2013 Global Report on Gender Equality confirmed that since 2006, Nigeria’s ranking has slipped on an international scale that measures the gap between men and women.

The construction industry is one of the Nigeria chief employers, employing over 2 million people especially in urban and capital cities of the state. The role of the women in employment is changing radically in most societies, in Nigeria, women constitute just over half of the total workforce. However, as per the Statistical bulletin report (2003), it was revealed that women still constitute only 12% in the construction sector. The true position of women in construction could be seen only when this figure is further broken down.

Accordingly, 84% of women in construction hold secretarial posts, whereas only 10% are employed in a professional capacity and the remaining 6% are craft and trade level employees.  Women continue to be significantly underrepresented in the primary sector (agriculture and energy and water), in most manufacturing, in transport and communications and, in particular, in the construction Industry.

What can be done?

One key to addressing the gender imbalance in skilled trades and technical labour market lies in increasing focused opportunities that accelerate women’s access to training and employment opportunities. One of such is apprenticeship programs targeted to women. By supporting more cohorts of women in apprenticeship programs, employers will have more trained women candidates to hire.

When women join, they enter a ready-made support network of female colleagues that have the potential to influence and improve workplace culture for women. This will improve both apprenticeship completion and job retention rates, which is a benefit to all stakeholders.

“Together we can change the stereotype image of a male as a builder”

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Post contributed by Ikwo Oka

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