Committee to empower women in construction

Pretoria – Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi on Friday launched the Department of Public Works Women Empowerment Advisory Committee (DPWWEAC) to address the lack of transformation in the Construction and Properties Industries.

The launch comes after Minister Nxesi held consultative sessions with women organisations which aimed to establish ways of ensuring that the department responds to the plight of the marginalisation of women.

Among other things, the committee will also provide a voice for women’s organisations in the built-environment.

Launching the Committee in Pretoria, Minister Nxesi said it is appropriate that the launch takes place during Women’s Month when the country is celebrating the contribution of women to the struggle for a free, democratic, non-racial and non-sexiest South Africa.

He said the struggle for gender equality is far from over.

“Therefore the entire struggle for gender emancipation requires the attention and activism of all of us, women and men working as brothers and sisters in the struggle and struggling as comrades together to achieve complete social emancipation.

“After 20 years of democracy, despite many gains and advances, there are many areas of life particularly in the economy where women remain under-represented,” he said.

Minister Nxesi said by launching the committee, the department is taking forward the demands of women for equality in every sphere of life, including the economy.

“While we have made massive progress since 1994 in the transformation of gender relations including social delivery, our society still remains largely patriarchal.

“A gender approach that seeks to change the existing conditions necessitate that women be empowered and afforded the opportunity to participate in the departmental development programmes and have equal access to economic resources to achieve a gender balance,” he Minister said.

Chairperson of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), Myataza Lindelwa Myataza, said since 1994 women continued to make a contribution to the construction sector.

“Women also need to be included in decision-making,” she said, adding that this will assist in pushing the frontiers of resistance to women empowerment.

Chief Executive Officer of the Construction Sector Charter Council, Thabo Masombuka, said there is a need for effective advancement of equity.

He expressed a concern on fronting, saying the practice is illegal.

“We invite women to stand firm against such practices,” he said.

According to the department, the advisory committee will among other things, provide technical advice to the Minister and the department on issues of women empowerment in the built environment and the property sector.

The committee’s role will include to:

· Represent all women organisations within the construction and property sectors;

· Chart a way forward for the establishment of a DPW Ministerial Accelerated Women Empowerment Programme (MAWEP);

· Develop the terms of reference for the DPWWAC to guide how the process will unfold; and

· Advocate for the identification of projects from the existing DPW programmes.

The key focus of the MAWEP includes procurement, enterprise development, economic development, skills development, research and policy development.