Women must make inroads in construction

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Johannesburg - Deputy Minister of Public Works Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu has encouraged women contractors to make their mark in the industry.

Bogopane-Zulu said South Africa was a country that was transforming and every industry, including construction, should be part of that change.

"Construction sites should not make women feel like they need to be men, but rather they need to change because women have arrived," she said, speaking during a roundtable discussion with women contractors on Friday.

She said her department was doing its bit too and putting together plans to establish a gender unit to help in understanding what it is that needs to be done differently and address issues such as the expectations of women in the industry.

"When we say a construction site is 'women-friendly', we've got to ask what is it that determines this, and what are we, as women, bringing to the sites," she questioned.

The minister further challenged the women contractors to ensure that they get a slice of the R800 billion allocated by government for infrastructural development for the next three years.

However, women also need to understand the unwritten rules of the construction industry and that it is not always about how much a contract was worth.

A representative from South African Women in Construction, Kile Kwinana, said that while South Africa had won the battle of apartheid, the country was now facing the battle of sexes.

"Women in construction are facing a number of challenges, including social, economical and political. Due to issues of socialization, women end up feeling inferior and are not judged on their ability and attitudes," Kwinana said.

Bogopane-Zulu added that construction workers should take part in the Kharikhude campaign which teaches adults to read and write to that they can be part of building a better South Africa.