The construction business has always been seen as a male dominated industry. For many years, women were not viewed as major players in the industry and most of the construction companies were set up by men. This however has been changing over the past few years with more and more women getting into the construction business.
I recently attended the inaugural women in construction awards 2014 at the Safari Park hotel and from the turn out and speakers in attendance it is evident that the construction business, and the infrastructure industry as a whole, is experiencing a shift in the demographics constituting its key players. With the new constitution advocating for women, youth and the disabled to get a third of government contracts and tenders, more and more women are slowly gaining influence and big business in the industry.
The women in construction awards was preceded by the formation of an association to advocate for women in construction. The Association of Kenya Women in Construction (AKEWIC) is a professional Association comprised of women working in construction and related industries.
Women do not want to just bid for the allocated third but want to also compete with their male counterparts for bigger contracts in construction. There were testimonies from women who have build their own companies and gained big contracts of up to 100 million shillings in construction.
The awards not only highlighted the best construction companies ran by women but is also seen a platform to motivate more and more women to get into the construction business. Suleco Company Ltd emerged as the winner of the Woman Contractor of the Year 2014 and received 1 million shillings worth of cement from ARM cement. This showed that even major companies are seeing women constructors as major players in the industry.
“Women, who make up the majority of our population, need to be enabled and equipped to be active players in our quest to reach vision 2030 goals. Poverty reduction, higher levels of education and growth in businesses will not be realized if women are not involved.” ARM Cement’s Managing Director, Pradeep Paunrana