| Focus on women for the Global Strategy for Shelter |
The participation of women in the formal construction sector is low, more so in developing than in industrialized countries. Reliance on high technology and imported materials in the construction of houses in the urban areas seems to have pushed women out of a sector in which they have traditionally played an active role. While women have achieved some access into the professional ranks of the sector, e.g., as engineers and architects, it is an undeniable fact that women constitute a minority among all ranks and levels of employment in the formal sector. Indeed, the female participation ratio in the construction sector is far below the average for all industries.
Regional variations are interesting: the participation of women in construction is particularly low in African countries, whereas in several Asian countries, such as the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand, female participation is higher than in the African countries. One of the most limiting constraints to women's participation in the construction sector is lack of training. In all cases, training is crucial not just as an end in itself but also as a means of promoting a balanced distribution of job opportunities in the construction sector. In Jamaica, for example, training has increased both job opportunities and incomes for women. In those cases where women are being employed within the construction industry, the employers are reporting the positive influence of women on building sites: productivity increases; violence and pilfering decreases.