Women in Construction: Breaking stereotypes

Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | June 5  

The construction sector may be a male-dominated industry but few courageous women have broken stereotypes by venturing into this area of work, to the extent of calling it a ‘career’. 47-year old, Kedolhousano Punyü from Khonoma village has been engaging herself in construction related activity for the past 5 years.  

When she discovered this non-traditional opportunity for women, it was not just the factor of livelihood that drew her to it, but also the pleasure she continues to derive from it. Interestingly enough, it was only after years into her marriage that she started working in the construction sites. “I would dig the earth, carry sand, bricks or wood and earn Rs. 500 a day”, she enlightens.  

Mother to 3 school going children, when she leaves for work in the morning, it also means she has already cooked and finished the household chores before she sets out. ‘On Saturdays and holidays, my two elder children (who are both studying in class 12) join me in the construction sites and we all earn Rs. 500 each”, she goes on to say.  

Born to farmer parents, Kedolhousano Punyü naturally grew up learning how to cultivate- something that she has been practicing all her life. In the past, she largely depended on farming for livelihood but chancing upon construction related activity has clearly expanded her horizons. Whatever she earns from these manual works is a contributing factor in raising her three kids, sending them all to school and maintaining a home. While her husband works as a Chowkidar, it certainly helps that both the parents have a source of income.  

“It is not just the earnings but I also enjoy working at the construction sites”, she insists even as she expresses, “I usually call a neighbour friend (a Konyak lady) whenever there is work.” “Sometimes, she and I are working 5 days a week or sometimes, only once a week. It usually depends on the work but this year, we have been doing mostly construction related work”, she further expresses.  

Rain or sunshine, when there is work, there is no stopping these two women. While they live in Jotsoma, they engage themselves in construction related work not only in the vicinity but also as far as Tinpati area in the state capital.  

“Construction work is physically very exhausting but there is also pleasure and fulfillment in doing what you enjoy doing”, Kedolhousano Punyü puts across. “It is not only a man’s job, but even women can play a vital role”, she further adds.  

*Year of Construction Workers (YOCW) is a joint program of the Government of Nagaland in partnership with YouthNet, Zynorique and the Department of Labour & Employment, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.