Waves of Change: Women’s employment in construction in Ghana
The industrious sounds of construction echo throughout Accra.
The Greater Accra Region is home to more than four million people, and that number is rising. Newcomers are pouring into the city every day, many of whom are searching for better opportunities.
As a result, residential construction is booming. There is no shortage of work, as builders try to keep up with the demands of a rapidly growing population. The World Bank estimates that Ghana will need 250,000 more skilled construction workers by 2020.
This timely opportunity could benefit many Ghanaians, but many will miss out if we don’t act now; women make up only 3% of the construction workforce.
Radio has the capacity to open up dialogue between different actors and its waves can reach millions of people to deconstruct the stereotypes that prevent women from pursuing their ambitions. This is the case of the program Kyere W’adwene (express your mind).
Debunking Gender Stereotypes Through Radio
Gender stereotypes have fueled a belief that construction work is a job for men. Among those few women who do work in the sector, many report experiencing sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace.
If perceptions are to change and stereotypes be debunked, they need to be discussed openly. WUSC partnered with CECI and Farm Radio International through the Uniterra program to launch a new radio program, Kyere W’adwene.
The program offers a platform for women to speak freely about their experiences working in construction. They discuss the challenges and opportunities they face, including in terms of training. By participating in the program, they hope to encourage other young women to get involved.
“There were 36 men in my class, and I was the only woman. It was difficult at times, but my teachers always supported me”, explained Gladys Perpetual Awudi, who is now a welding instructor at Tema Technical Institute.
Seeing the positive impact her career has had on her life, Gladys is glad she continued her studies. “Now, I’m able to do something that I’m passionate about. Working in the construction sector has the ability to bring out a young woman’s confidence, to know that she’s able to do things on her own and take care of herself.”
Judgment from family and community members is a common obstacle women face when entering construction. Gladys notes that staying strong despite this is the key to overcoming it. “Some people face opposition from their families because they don’t believe that girls are capable of doing these things, and they worry that everyone will be talking about their daughter. I was teased at the beginning, so you have to be strong in the mind.”
The Emergence of Change
The program showed an ability to bring everyone together, even though some questions sparked debate. Exchanges offered a chance for listeners to hear from different perspectives that they might not have been exposed to in the past. A survey conveyed that roughly 80% of listeners have indicated a positive change in their perception of women in the construction industry.
By offering more information about the training process and opportunities, women are feeling more knowledgeable and prepared to begin their studies. One training institution reported female enrolment increased from 10% to 40% since the radio program began.
The impact of an initiative like Kyere W’adwene has the potential to reach many people. It helps young women better plan for their future careers, while also helping their families understand the benefits of employment in the construction sector.
WUSC strives to create more inclusive and safe environments for youth and women around the world. But these initiatives are only made possible through the generosity of our supporters.