-construction activities in several parts in the country.
Asma decided to invest heavily in construction profession after acquiring skills and knowledge from a special training provided by the country’s Centre for Community Initiatives (CCI) about ten years ago.
Reports show that the number of women in the construction sector is still very low something which needs more coordinated efforts to lure more women in the sector so as to stimulate economic growth and promote equality.
She says that in most communities, seeing women doing such works (construction activities) which are perceived to be men’s jobs, it taken negatively. But as days goes on there has been a growing trust from the community after seeing the work that women are able to do.
Asma says since she received the training in 2012, her life has changed for better through various construction tenders she gets thus injecting more income.
“Through the job I have been traveling in various part of the country to implement various construction tenders, I thank CCI for bringing me into this profession. I am happy because I also receive full support from husband and the family and this gives me courage to continue working and being more innovative,” she says.
Like Asma, Janeth Dismas (50) from Keko Machugwa in Temeke district, Dar es Salaam, was able to utililse the skills and expertise gained to also advance his family’s opportunities. The new source of income she gained by constructing toilets allowed her to support her children’s education.
“Earlier, I could never imagine educating my three children with a subsistence living. Earnings from constructing toilets have helped me support my family, purchase plots as well as constructing anew house at Kivule in the outskirts of Dar es Salaam,” Janeth says.
Janeth says:“Toilet construction has doubled my income. I encourage every other woman to do something for her own unique identity.” Janeth is proud to have challenged the gender-based barriers that existed in her community, and hopes to share these lessons about perseverance and agency with her daughters.
Chuki Balama also from Keko Machungwa says: At first during practical training of toilet construction, we were supervised and getting support from professional architects. But due to our attentiveness, most of us have now become good builders.”
She commends CCI for also financing them to take a two-week entrepreneurship course at the Vocational Educational Training Authority (VETA) something has enabled them to be more innovative in coming up with other income generating activities aprt from construction.
Balama however says that the construction activities do not make her forget her everyday family duties which include making sure that her children, husband and members of the family eat as well as making the house clean and organized.
Balama further says not only have the federation members worked to improve sanitation within Keko Machungwa but also, with the assistance of the CCI, water boreholes have been drilled and water kiosks established. Buckets of water are sold to community members at each kiosk. The system is managed by a water committee and maintained by the community. A number of kiosks are dotted across the area.
Stella Stephen, CCI monitoring and evaluation officer says that the organization has supported training of over 100 women in the country to become toilet masons, providing them with the skills to expand their expertise to other construction opportunities.
She says CCI as a nongovernmental organization supporting and empowering poor community living in informal settlements in Tanzania, has been empowering community in particularly women to take different initiatives to improve their living condition individually and the community at large.
This is done through formation of small savings groups known as Tanzania Urban Poor Federation (TUPF) who are united not only to do savings but to tackle other challenges they are facing within the community in collaboration with other stakeholders.
“The idea of empowering women to participate in the construction came after empowering the women to take lead on opportunities available so that they can get income. Different women came up to participate in toilets construction. They were motivated by seeing other women doing the same in different regions here in Tanzania and in other countries as well. A total 103 have been capacitated by CCI though construction trainings theoretical and practically in different regions including Dar es salaam. Keko machungwa settlement was the first settlement to have women in construction here in Dar es Salaam. They are able to get income out of the toilet construction works within and outside of Dar es Salaam,” she says.
Stella adds: “Some of these women have traveled in different regions in Tanzania to build the capacity of other technicians and some have gone to Uganda and Kenya to participate in trainings and share their experience. So apart from the income they are getting to support their families eg.paying school fees for their children, purchasing piece of land etc, they have been able to get the exposures, acquiring skills and building their confidence.”