Female Construction Workers
Cambodia’s construction industry is booming, from any location in the capital, Phnom Penh, you can see a high-rise or a condo being built. Head out of the centre of town and witness the rise of row upon row of shop houses and grand mansions surrounded by hoardings promising a suburban dream. The industry is estimated to employ 175,000 to 200,000 workers. Most are migrant workers who flock to the capital weary of low paid agricultural and factory work.
Around 20-40% of these workers are women; some are just starting out, others are veterans of the industry honing their skills learned in the provinces whilst others are from among the 160,000 workers who returned from Thailand in 2014 after a crack-down on illegal migrant workers.
Many of the women workers have come to the capital with their family and friends; relocating to live and work on the building sites. Safety equipment is sparse and training almost non-existent. Despite some of the female workers being highly skilled their work is often undervalued based on gender, receiving 1 USD a day less than their male counterparts, a real blow when the daily wage is around 5 USD compared to the 10 USD many were receiving in Thailand.
Injures are common place and falls from scaffolding have been recorded due to a lack of safety equipment or vocational training.
Yet the women of Cambodia’s construction industry are hard working and driven; resilient to the risks and conditions they face.