Women leaders are pushing for rights of women workers in the construction sector.
They’re calling on private firms and concerned agencies to provide separate facilities for women and to absorb more women in the construction industry workforce.
In the recently held Mindanao-Visayas Feedback Forum on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW63) held at the Ateneo de Davao University, 47-year old Merlita Colegado, resident of Barangay 15-B, Davao City recalled that she experienced discrimination when she first applied as heavy equipment operator and as welder.
When she landed on such jobs, she felt the discomfort of having no separate facilities for women, leaving her with no choice but to bathe in open spaces at the sight of fellow male workers. She also would have to sleep at the same quarters with male co-workers especially when assigned at construction sites far from her home.
“Basta magtrabaho ko sa layo nga wala miy katulgan , mahuna huan pud nako nga ang akong kahimtang naa jud sa peligro kay tungod mga lalake ang akong mga kauban. (Working far from home with no quarters to sleep overnight, I am thinking of myself in a risky situation because I am sleeping with men co-workers.),” she said.
In an interview, Philippine Commission on Women (PWC) Gender and Development (GAD) Resource Pool member Rosena Sanchez viewed as a challenge for the government to integrate the policy on gender in implementing infrastructure projects.
However, she had high hopes that GAD would be fully integrated in the Build, Build, Build Program of the national government using the Harmonize Gender and Development Guidelines (HGDG) known as the “HAGADAGA” tools.
“One of the elements of the HAGADA is for infra projects especially of the government to hire women in construction. We all know that TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Administration) has trained a lot of women in wielding, tile setting, driving, electrical work; they should be hired as part of the workforce for construction,” she said.
She suggested officials of Department of Works and Highways (DPWH) “to really study the tool and ask for assistance from the PCW on how to apply the tool” as she urged them “to commit themselves to start hiring women in construction”.
On the other hand, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Undersecretary Luz Ilagan challenged women in the construction sector to assert their rights especially if they possess the necessary skills required at the construction jobs they are applying.
Ilagan also pointed out the need to change the mindset of construction industry employers and concerned agencies to check discrimination and for them to look at the capacity of women to handle construction work.
“This can only be changed if we provide the education and information not only to employers, but also to women. They can assert especially if they possess the ability. They can claim that they have the same capacity with men, why would they not be given the job,“ she said.
PCW Chairperson Rhodora M. Bucoy during the forum assured participants to closely look at the implementation of HAGADAGA tools in close coordination with DPWH and other concerned agencies of the national government. (PIA XI/ Jeanevive Duron Abangan)