DHADING, Jan 2: Donning bright yellow helmets on their heads, gloves around their hands and gumboots around their feet, a large number of women in Dhading are found working as masons these days. Putting aside her kitchen appliances for a while, Dhanmaya Ghale of Benighat ward no.6, Syadul, is seen working with the mixture of cement, bricks and gravels. She is proving herself no less than the male workers at the construction sites.
Ghale who earns Rs.900 a day, said, "We work as much as the male workers and we are happy that we now have similar earnings."
In the beginning, a lot of them could not take up this job as they feared that they will be mocked by society. But later they got used to it as their decision didn't draw much criticism or negativity as predicted. Earlier, Dhanmaya, 42, along with the other women at construction sites used to work as labors. Later, they started learning the skills of masonry and decided to try this new job. This has changed their lives forever.
Challenging the patriarchal thinking, these women have proved that there is nothing that women can't do. Though the contractors doubted upon their abilities in the beginning, in no time they were convinced that these women could build super-strong houses.
After the deadly earthquake of 2015, Prayas Nepal conducted training for masons in the district. A wide number of women were benefited by the training. Dhanmaya, who was one of the trainees, has now become a trainer. She has been sharing her technical knowledge with a lot of other women and girls.
Her sister Devika Ghale who gained knowledge about construction also works as a mason along with her. "There was a time, when the villagers didn't want to hand over the responsibility to us but now they find us more reliable than the male workers," Devika said.
Similarly, Shanti Tamang of Khaniyabas Rural Municipality of Dhading was brutally injured in the earthquake. However, these days she has been a great inspiration for a lot of women like her. Despite her injury, she has been involved in the construction work and is also making good money. A few months ago, Srijana Gurung of Bhulbhule, Nilkantha Municipality, earned only Rs.200 a day even after putting all her efforts. Now, she works as a mason along with her husband. "Managing our household has been less of a challenge now," said Srijana.
An active effort of women masons and workers is expected to speed up the long stalled reconstruction. As a lot of people are unable to rebuild their houses due to the lack of manpower, many women are joining masonry training and other works.