The next time you see a woman instructing labourers at a construction site or giving ideas about the basic layout of a home, don’t be surprised. Supported by the state government, corporate houses and NGOs are training women in tribal belts of Gujarat for masonry work.
Most of the construction labourers in Gujarat belong to the tribal community. Hence, the tribal district of Dahod was selected for the pilot project of masonry training.
“We also give training to men but in Dahod, one third of the total participants were females. In four years, we have got very good response,” said Kirit Jasani, team leader of the training group from Gujarat Ambuja.
The training is provided by various organisations like Sewa of Ahmedabad, Ambuja Cement Foundation and Gramin Vikas Trust — an NGO promoted by Kribhco.
For women it is an opportunity to be competent and share their family responsibilities.
“I never thought of working as main mason earlier. However, after the training I am not only able to work efficiently but my daily income has also doubled,” said 24-year-old Savita, resident of Hadmatkhuta in Dahod.
“I never imagined that I would be doing brick masonry or earning better wages every day. The training has given me lot of confidence,” said Vali, a 21-year-old trainee from Tanda village in Dahod.
Shree Racaita Bandhkam Mahila Sewa Sahakari Mandli, a co-operative attached with Sewa, also provides masonry and other skill development training to its members.
“With globalisation and latest technology, we found that women were the first to lose jobs as they lacked skill. Hence, we started training woman masons with the help of Cept and Skill Training Institute,” said Manali Shah, head of the project at Sewa.
Around 400 women have been trained by Sewa in construction and mason works through its three-month training programme, which also involves classroom and on-job training. “After the training programme, we found that rather than doing routine labour on construction site, women were able to perform different types of brick masonry and plaster work,” Jasani added.
In last five years, Ambuja Cement Foundation has trained 314 women masons in Dahod district. The company has sent a proposal to start similar training programme in other parts of the state and is awaiting approval.