Women builders make the grade

The housing department is to expand its empowerment flagship programme, Women in Construction.

The housing department is to expand its empowerment flagship programme, Women in Construction.

The move was made following the better-than-expected successes from 10 women contractors who were appointed last year to build houses for people who earn low incomes.

One year into the Women in Construction programme, the women builders have constructed hundreds of houses. Some of the houses have already been occupied.

Each of the 10 women builders was deployed to build houses across municipalities in Gauteng, in the provincial government's priority programme to upgrade and eradicate all informal settlements by 2014.

The programme was launched in July last year as a special project of the MEC for housing, Nomvula Mokonyane.

Women contractors were identified and selected for the programme. An amount of R200million was ring fenced to finance construction projects to be undertaken by the women contracted to the department for a period of three years.

The women were allocated projects of building between 100 to more than 300 houses, depending on the size of the settlement or land allocated to them.

Mokonyane said: ''Over the past year, not one of the women has quit the programme and several of them, despite the challenges they faced, finished ahead of schedule. They have now moved to the next phase of work allocated to them.''

In paying tribute to the 10 women builders, Mokonyane said they were proving to be viable partners in the government's programme to provide decent housing to poor people and to fight the scourge of homelessness and informal settlements in the province.

The department also announced that it would be inviting more women contractors to register with the department in order to participate in the Women in Construction programme.

A delighted Rachel Tladi, one of the women contractors in the programme, said: ''It was not an easy project to do but, to be honest, I have grown so much.''

The Women in Construction programme was also established to facilitate the entry of women into the formal construction sector, which is seen as male dominated and an industry that women have traditionally battled to break into.

The Women in Construction programme selects and develops women through an incubator programme where they have access to services and expertise that will allow them to grow and develop into fully-fledged and well-established contractors.