Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
MANY women have found getting employment in male-dominated fields difficult because some employers do not believe they can do heavy jobs.
However, in the modern world, jobs are determined by one’s skills and interest. Women have ventured into the male-dominated world and are now bus drivers, farmers, miners and builders among others.
Women, however, still shun jobs in the construction sector.
But for Ms Similo Sibanda (42), Ms Patrina Tshuma (27), both of Mkhosana suburb and Ms Sukoluhle Mpofu of Chinotimba in Victoria Falls, working in the construction industry is like working in an office.
They are the only women among two dozen men working for P Black Engineering Contractors which is building a lodge in Victoria Falls.
The company is still looking for more women as it has a deliberate policy to promote gender.
“We are an indigenous company whose aim is to promote gender. We still want to employ more women because this project is ongoing. After finishing the precast wall, we will start building the lodge itself so there will be more work coming,” said Mr Phinias Makuyana, P Black Construction Engineering founder.
His company has built several schools around Matabeleland North and has a number of projects that it is doing in Victoria Falls.
The three women have even been laughed at for being “daka boys”, a colloquial name given to assistant builders.
However, they are among the few people who have remained in employment during the Covid-19-induced lockdown which left almost all sectors grounded.
“I worked at a lodge before I got married 19 years ago. I could have become a vendor selling vegetables and tomatoes but I prefer a job where I get paid per month. So, I asked for permission from my husband and he agreed that I look for a job. I chose the construction industry because that is what was available at that time and this has been my industry for a long time now.
“In 2016 I was employed at Masimba Construction when we built Sawanga Mall before I moved to this site a few months ago,” said Ms Sibanda, who is an assistant builder.
Her husband, Mr Andrew Nyoni, is a security guard and the couple has three children aged between 10 and 23.
Ms Sibanda said she works from Monday to Friday and her daughter does household chores during the week while she takes over during weekends when she is not at work.
“Sometimes I will be very tired when I get home but I have not abandoned my duties as a woman. I advise women to go out there, even if it means venturing into the male-dominated world and get a job. We cannot be asking for money even to buy tomatoes from our husbands when we could work on our own,” said Ms Sibanda.
Ms Tshuma who started as a building assistant is now a full- time female professional builder at the company.
She is not yet married and said she will only retire from the industry when her body cannot carry her anymore.
“This is my third year as a builder and I have built a lot of houses in the CBZ stands. I didn’t go to any building school. I started as an assistant builder and learnt through observing and taking instructions from my
superiors,” she said.
Ms Tshuma said some young women laugh at her when they pass by the construction site, but that has made her proud of herself.
“To me any job is worth it as long as it’s decent and doesn’t make you feel ashamed. Sometimes some people laugh at me as they pass by but I am not ashamed because I am now a professional and they just move around. In fact, they are still backward if they think this is a male job,” she said.
Her boyfriend has been supportive as he encourages her to learn more skills in the industry, she said.
“For now, I am not thinking of leaving. Maybe later when I grow older,” she said.
For mother of six, Ms Mpofu, construction work is healthy as it keeps her fit.
She said working in the construction industry provides job security as the sector will always thrive even when the economy is not doing well.
“My husband is not working and this has been our source of living. I started in 2013 and have never looked for another job. This is a good job because construction will always be there even if the economy goes down.
“People should not shun this type of job. Try anything that comes your way, it’s not as hard as it seems and above all it keeps you fit,” she said. — @ncubeleon