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CARE: Females Slog but Paid Less

Sum Manet / Khmer Times Share:
A female migrant construction worker in Shanghai, China. In

Female workers are still being paid less than their male counterparts on construction sites, while building companies value male construction workers as more skilled than women, according to a CARE Cambodia report released Friday.
CARE’s research paints a comprehensive picture of the situation of women working in the construction sector ‒ estimated to be up to 30 percent of the workforce. It includes a particular focus on the gender divisions which exist in the sector and how this affects women’s pay, living conditions and overall safety.
“Almost all women report they are paid less than men, $1 to $3 per day less, and this is explained as women workers do ‘less physically taxing’ and therefore less overall work than male workers. Three in four women are paid between $3.75 to $5 per day, while only 10 percent earn more than $6.25, similar to lower paid male workers,” according to the CARE report.
The report added that most company managers and supervisors had a preference for male workers as they could do more “different types of construction work and are generally considered more skilled than women.”
“As expected, we have found that these women have little knowledge of their rights or protections,” said Adriana Siddle, CARE Cambodia’s dignified work advisor.
“Women working in the construction sector often perform the least skilled and lowest paid work, and because of gender stereotypes, they are not given the same opportunities to develop their skills or progress,” said Ms. Siddle.
“There is no reason why women should not be valued as employees to the same extent as men. On top of that, much more could be done to improve the protections offered to all employees in the construction industry, both male and female.”
Kalyan Rath, a project manager with CARE Cambodia, said it was important to equip women with vital life skills such as income management and awareness of basic rights.
“This helps prevent them for being made vulnerable, both at work and in other areas of their life,” said Ms. Rath.
“At the same time, providing opportunities for development will encourage women to become more driven, committed and enthusiastic employees ‒ which obviously makes good business sense for companies wishing to maximize the productive potential of the construction sector’s workforce,” she added.
Sok Kean, president of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, told Khmer Times most of the time, construction workers get paid by middlemen who sell labor to the developers. They take a cut for each worker as their commission, he added.
Mr. Kean said female construction workers often got shortchanged by the labor brokers and middlemen. “Women working as laborers at construction sites were paid just $4 per day on average, but men earned $6 to $8 per day,” he said.
“These workers have to work every day. If they don’t work they won’t get paid. There are no public holidays, no health benefits, and almost nothing for them.”
CARE is also working with the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training to make sure that the specific concerns of the women employed in the booming construction sector are being heard by policymakers, according to the report.
In a report released recently by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, between 11,000 and 12,000 jobs per day were created nationwide last month in the construction sector. In Phnom Penh, the ministry said, there were 7,000 to 8,000 jobs created a day in the same month.

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