Women in Plateau State are venturing into male dominated ventures and excelling. One of such ventures is working at construction sites. They are now found to be, more than their male counterparts engaged in nearly all types of work at the site. From mixing and carrying of sand, cement and gravels, to fetching of water and carrying blocks, the women say they are faring well even in the contest of physical strength. Others also engage in laying of blocks, flooring, operating mixing machines, among other works.
Lami Samuel, 33, who works at a building site in Rayfield area of Jos, said she has 16 years working experience on the job, which she uses to carter for her four children and support her husband. “We work from 8am to 5pm daily. People say the work is for males and that it has many challenges, but we persevere in it because we need to make a living and help ourselves and our families. The work is sometimes physically exhausting but we are not deterred,” she said.
The mother of four explained that it is becoming unheard of for their male counterparts to outdo them at construction sites. “We even try to work harder than the men and most of the time there is really nothing that they can do that we cannot do. But we are not competing because we have a good understanding and good working relationship.” Samuel said that she is so proud of her job and encourages other women to join it or any other male dominated profession. “The way things are going now, it is no longer tenable for women to sit and wait for their husbands to do everything for them.” Working between Monday and Saturday, the women claim they earn N1, 500 daily and have list of engineers or contractors who frequently engage them whenever they secure building contracts.
In some sites the women have formed cooperatives where they contribute N1, 000 daily and each Saturday, a member gets N6, 000 or more depending on the number of contributors. A 40-year-old widow, Talatu Zavo, said women go into construction work mainly because of lack of employment opportunities. She said even students waiting for admission or those on holiday have joined them. Talatu, a tailor turned labourer, said she started working as labourer while in JSS 3 in order to earn some pocket money. Talatu is grateful she got introduced to the job earlier in life saying it could have been more challenging especially since she turned a widow. An engineer/contractor, who engages the women, Abba Ahmadu Abel said it is always easier working with women because they are more committed and hardworking. He said he gives them concession by allowing them to sometimes go home early. Abel, who said he has been working with some of the women for almost 20 years, called on the government to organize skill acquisition programmes for them to make them more proficient.
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