Women in trades: We can do the job!

Last 24 June, more than 180 women workers from BWI’s construction and building materials sectors gathered online to share their experiences and challenges in organising women in trades. 

In a BWI-sponsored global forum, trade unions discussed their role in the advocacy of vocational training for tradeswomen. BWI affiliates presented a united front, responding favourably to the suitability of construction trades for women.

This was supported by the findings and conclusions of a 2020 BWI-commissioned research on women in trades led by BWI external consultant Nora Wintour. The research recognised the growing number of women workers (both skilled and not) in the building and construction trades. 

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson said that trade unions have a key role to play in advocating for skills training opportunities for women in trades so they can access good quality jobs. “For women to remain working in the trades, first, we need to increase their numbers. They also need to be respected by their co-workers and employers translated into equal pay, family-friendly working conditions and safety at work and on the journey to and from worksites,” he said.  

The online event also saw the launch of BWI’s “Trades for Women” Global Campaign. BWI affiliates will bring the campaign to the national and regional levels under the initiative called “Skilled Sisterhood under Construction”. It is hoped that affiliates will be able to share how they have developed and led the campaign to real achievements before a Global Conference on Women in Trades ahead of BWI’s Congress in 2022.

“The message is clear: women can do the job! Economic recovery creates an opportunity to promote training and employment of tradeswomen by demanding gender equity in employment opportunities in recovery plans and programmes and a gender equity approach to developing the construction labour force in the future,” BWI International Women Committee Chair Rita Schiavi said. 

Watch the forum here.