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More women needed in construction industry, says Grange

Thursday, September 14, 2017

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MINISTER of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange has called for the inclusion of more women in the construction industry, saying that Jamaica cannot afford to overlook the economic potential of half of the country's population.

During a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of a 128-unit apartment complex on Arthur Wint Drive by Wihcon on Tuesday, Grange disclosed that figures from Statistical Institute of Jamaica show that of a labour force of 119,000 for the construction industry, fewer than 5,000 are women.

“We have to change that. As we work to build Jamaica and move our people from poverty to prosperity, we need new strategies to grow our economy. In this mission, we cannot afford to overlook the economic potential of half of our country's population,” she said. “We do so at our peril.”

Quoting from a publication of the Construction Resource and Development Centre, Grange reasoned that in 1982 the Jamaican building industry was booming, providing employment to 32,000 people. However, of that number, only 800 were women — none of whom had the status of trade worker.

“Thirty-five years on, are we pleased at the progress that women have made in the construction sector?” she asked.

“There is an undeniable body of evidence showing that every sector improves when women are able to participate freely. To put that a different way: Wherever the situation of women has improved, the overall economic condition in the country had improved as well,” she said.

In 1983, Jamaica recognised a milestone achievement when women received training at the Vocational Training Development Institute. A community-based organisation known as the Women's Construction Collective, which started with 10 women in Tivoli Gardens that same year, sought to have the women employed.

“They proved that women can take on any job and do it well. Despite that, there are still too few women in the construction industry,” Grange said.

Last month, statistics from the Planning Institute of Jamaica revealed that the construction industry, which falls under the goods-producing industry, registered an increase of 1.5 per cent for the period ending April to June 2017. Growth in the sector was reflective of increased activities in both residential and non-residential construction.

— Karena Bennett

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