Radical economic transformation will remain a distant dream if society doesn’t begin to take a conscious stand on the inclusion of women in strategic industries like the built sector. This was highlighted by Human Settlements’ National Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Ms Nocawe Mafu, recently at a week-long celebration for the success of 15 women contractors who have their capacity been elevated from CIDB Grade One to CIDB Grade Four in the build sector. The celebrations took place at Sabie, Thaba Chweu Local Municipality where scores of local business women gathered to share best practices.
The celebration has formed part of the South African Women in Construction (SAWIC) week (25 -29 March 2019) celebration where, partnered with the Department of Human Settlements, the organization handed over three fully furnished houses this week to identified needy households in the province. Mafu commended the Department for championing the idea of putting aside 30% of its budget to the empowerment of women in the sector. “We are grateful as women to have been given such an incredible opportunity and recognition to ply our trade in such a male dominated field.
“Today we are happy to realize that it was not all in vein as we celebrate the growth of some of our contractors who got their working grades elevated to can absorb even more work,” said Mafu who however pleaded with other stakeholders to implement the same call for the empowerment of women in their work cycles. One of the jubilant contractors, Ms Nomathamsanqa Juku explained that despite the many hurdles experienced working as a woman with limited resources, the only key thing is to stay on course and let the work do the talk.
“Breaking into the system is a bit challenging and once that has happened then it means as an emerging contractor one needs to know that you will be competing with the best and well established contractors and mostly male. Then it means one should up their game to stay relevant in the game,’’ said Juku who further admitted that the challenges are daunting at the beginning until such time they have learnt how to complete their work on time.
Human Settlements Deputy Minister Zou Kota-Fredericks who handed over two houses to needy beneficiaries from Shiyalongubo Village and Loueville kicked off the celebration earlier in the week. Sequel to that, a 56 year-old woman from Pienaar had her fully furnished house handed over to her by the Department and SAWIC. Organisation’s Chairperson, Ms Nomhle Tshaba-Nyumba affirmed their position as an organisation that they strive to lobby private and public sectors to rally their support behind women in the construction value chain. Tshaba-Nyumba said that they have managed to come up with winning proposals that challenged government to believe and include women in their developmental programmes. “Today we have women contractors who are thriving in their work and providing competitive service delivery for the betterment of our communities and country,” she concluded. SAWIC affiliated women contractors built the houses as part of the Department’s women empowerment programme.