SA women grow in construction

Friday, August 1, 2014

By More Matshediso

Pretoria – South African women in construction are expected to get a boost from a Memorandum of Understanding which is set to empower women contractors across the country.

The Department of Human Settlements will soon sign a MoU with the South African Women in Construction (SAWIC), department Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced on Thursday.

She was speaking at a two-day policy convention of SAWIC, which was attended by representatives from all nine provinces, in Johannesburg.

“The MoU will be necessary for accreditation of SAWIC as a housing institution, and therefore, it should be given the necessary attention and support,” said Minister Sisulu.

Over and above, the Minister said her department, together with the SAWIC executive team, will establish a programme that will, for a large part be dedicated to empowerment of women.

“This programme will be fully functional after I have tabled my budget vote speech,” said Minister Sisulu.

She said the project is in place and fully funded, adding that she will find out from her department’s Director General how much has been allocated for it.

“This new programme will cascade to all the provinces and municipalities. All the provinces have a commitment from the head [Minister] to address women needs,” the Minister said.

Over and above, the Minister said she has introduced SAWIC to Water Affairs and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, after being made aware that SAWIC had women who built about 5 000 toilets for citizens.

“Minister Mokonyane will give you [SAWIC members] as much empowerment as I am giving you because she deals with sanitation issues,” she said.

The Minister, who met with SAWIC executives at the beginning of July, in Cape Town, was briefed about the organisation.

“We had a productive meeting… I had taken interest in SAWIC and I have now adopted it,” she said.

SAWIC executives tabled the issues that needed the department’s attention and intervention. The minister came to report back on what her department will be offering SAWIC.

“If you want the best man for the job, you get a woman,” said Minister Sisulu.

One of the SAWIC members from Mpumalanga, Nomhle Tshaba Nyumba, said she joined SAWIC over five years ago to share her skills with other women in the industry.

“I think skills and funding are key to the challenges facing women who pursued career in construction,” said Nyumba, who is also a Chairperson of SAWIC in her province.

Nyumba was one of the few women who had engineering qualifications and saw a need to empower and capacitate others.

“I have a Btech in Civil Engineering… and most of the women here do not have necessary qualifications to run construction companies, so we need more skilled (especially) young people,” said Nyumba.

SAWIC President Nompumelelo Phakade said the convention came at the time when South African women celebrated 20 years of freedom and democracy and the Women’s Charter.

The convention will coincide with the beginning of Women’s Month, on 1 August. -