(Translation into English) Lidia Romero is an indigenous Bolivian woman who has been working in the construction sector for 3 years. During its beginnings in this sector, she was employed by informal contractors. This experience marked her negatively.
"They was force to work for free, without pay. Anyway, at that time I took this experience as a practice since I was just starting. But if I had known my rights back then, I would have been able to fight for them. These are things I did not know. That's why I decided to work on my own" said the 43-year-old worker.
Every morning Lidia gets up early, takes her daughter to school and meets with other forewomen to offer her services and get daily or weekly contracts. The group she belongs runs the streets of the city with posters and megaphones trying to attend to public events and workshops. Forewomen offer various services such as painting, masonry, plumbing, electrical installations, facade cladding and sometimes carpentry. Once they are contacted, they make the proper quotation and if the person agrees, they start working.
Lidia commented that because of her bad experiences with informal contractors, she never starts a job without first signing a contract that stipulates all the important details on her duties and performance. In addition, the contract allows the employer to feel more comfortable and confident about she and her colleagues will carry out the work properly.
"This way of working has allowed me and my colleagues to have flexibility in our jobs in order to be able to fulfill other personal obligations as well, such as household duties and children care, a situation that wasn’t possible when I worked for informal contractors”, said Lidia Romero.
Currently, Lidia Romero is registered in the women first labor market database in the sector generated by ILO and by the employers' association of the construction sector in Bolivia, whose objective is to make women more aware of the situation and to generate job opportunities (www.maestrasconstructoras.org).
In this regard, Rodrigo Mogrovejo, ILO's National Coordinator in Bolivia, stressed the importance of connecting indigenous women builders training centers with the business group so these women, who invest time in a very sacrificed way in their training, get a decent job in the companies that require their services.
Construction workers in Bolivia are the 8.8% of the country's total workforce (471,000 workers). Despite the fact that women only represent 4.5% of this total, they are strongly increasing their participation in the sector.
In La Paz, participation in construction increased from 5.2% to 6.4% in recent years. Women’s increase is from 0.49% to 1.5% and men is from 9.3% to 10.9%. In El Alto the share rose from 8.2% to 9.1%. From those figures, women’s participation increase from 0.662% to 1.7% and men from 13.4% to 15.4%.