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Female Construction Workers in Cambodia

Cambodia’s construction industry, especially in its capital, Phnom Penh, is booming. 175.000 to 200.000 construction workers are employed in this sector. Between 20 and 40 per cent of the workforce in this sector is female. They often migrated from Cambodia’s rural areas to the capital, mainly because they are poor or have no other work near their homes. The majority of construction workers are seasonal migrant workers moving from agriculture to construction and are working without a contract as day laborers. Even as a day laborer, workers could have access to protections, but few are aware. Most of the women working on construction sites have little education and face the same problems as all unskilled construction workers, limited workplace protections provided by construction companies and limited access to protection by the law.

Read about the vicious circle between the impacts of climate change and bonded labour in connection with the construction industry in Cambodia in this recently published report.

However, for women these problems are exacerbated by social norms which undervalue their contribution, lead to less pay, security and opportunities for work progression and training, place additional family responsibilities on them, and give them less social capacity to voice up their concerns and advocate for their rights.

There is a clear gender division among construction work with men doing heavier, more dangerous work as well as more skilled tasks while women do less physical work and more detailed work requiring more patience, which is deemed appropriate for women, not men. Half of the women never received any training or don’t have the same opportunity as men to get training or being promoted.

CARE and its partner organizations, „Cambodian Women for Peace and Development“ and „Legal Support for Children and Women“, work together with 3.000 female construction workers, trade unions, the civil society, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training as well as 300 private construction companies. CARE advocates for and promotes implementation of fundamental labor rights and protections in the construction sector to improve the situation of female construction workers in Cambodia.

For more detailed information regarding the project’s set-up, objectives and expected results, click here.