Women are one of the hardest hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Burkina Faso, women stone crushers bear the brunt of the economic strain caused by the health crisis. Many workers in the construction sector, particularly women, are retrenched due to the termination of several construction projects in the country. The BWI-affiliated Building and Wood Workers’ Federation of Faso (FTBBF), which is organising the women stone crushers, said that many of them are informal workers.
FTBBF has also observed that the health of many women stone crushers is at risk, as they are not provided with personal protective equipment (PPEs) and covered by COVID-19 protective measures.
Tapsoba Rasmata, a woman over 60 and a veteran stone crusher at the site, confirmed that they don’t have PPEs such as gloves, mufflers and safety shoes. She said that when a worker injures herself, she is forced to spend the little money she has saved to get proper treatment. Rasmata said that their work is very hard, but they have no other options as they need to provide for their families.
Constant Nabyouré, FTBBF Secretary General and BWI AFRECO titular member for Francophone Africa called on the government to support the women stone crushers with food supplies and PPEs. "These brave women are working at the stone crushing site as early as 6:00 am in the morning. They are crushing stones and picking up sand or gravel despite not being covered by the government’s social and health measures to protect them from COVID-19. While our union has done its best to help them, government support is indispensable and irreplaceable.”