What differentiates the Uniterra program from other international cooperation programs is its innovative and inclusive approach to development; it focuses on creating new economic opportunities for women and youth while fostering an environment of inclusivity, within diverse economic subsectors. In Ghana, Uniterra mainly works in two major sectors: Agriculture and Residential Construction, which are both key drivers of the economy.
The Construction sector in Ghana is booming at a rate of 11% and is expected to generate one million jobs in the next 10 years. However, based on a market research conducted by Uniterra, there are a number of key issues which are preventing youth and women from getting involved in this sector and benefiting from its many opportunities.
For this reason, Uniterra partnered with Farm Radio International to launch the “Communication for Scale” strategy which aims to gather and understand the perceptions held by women and youth on the construction sector. I was lucky enough to be apart of the formative research team, which divided us in teams and assigned different communities to visit and conduct interviews in. This was an eye opening experience as it allowed me to go on the field and speak to the people about their thoughts on including more women and youth in the residential construction sector. Our findings revealed that there is a negative stigma attached to working in construction, indeed not only was this sector not attractive but it was also viewed as not prestigious and unsafe by a large number of the women and youth interviewed.


“I would like to work in construction, I would like to paint houses but my parents want me to go to University instead, construction jobs are for men not women” a young woman stated. Another man explained that “Construction job is not something to be proud of, you only do it if you have no other choice, it is not a good job”.
Based on these findings, Uniterra and Farm Radio International gathered stakeholders such as employers, TVET institutions and master craftsmen, parents, policy makers in order to start a dialogue, offer solutions and challenge this male dominated sector.


How do we debunk these stereotypes? How do we inform and educate women on youth on the opportunities available in this lucrative and male dominated sector? Why are there so few women involved?
The Communication for Scale strategy then translated into “Kyere W’adwen efis3 woka hodi” (“Share your thoughts because you are a part of it”in Twi), a radio program that addresses all those questions. For six weeks, the radio show, through the use of listening posts, focuses on these important topics. From raising awareness on the training and job opportunities to including construction- related quiz and competitions, this interactive and engaging radio program which also features resource persons already involved in construction, is generating debate and discussions in the communities. Will we be seeing more women and youth in construction ?

Stay tuned to find out!
Share YOUR thoughts with me : is there a negative stigma attached to women and men undertaking technical and vocational training ?Are there traditional professions for women and men in your community ? What are some ways to address this gender divide ?

 

Sources :
Uniterra 3- Market Research Findings : Overview of the Informal Residential Construction Sector in Ghana-Final report (January 2016) WUSC Ghana
Yiedie (Youth Inclusive Entrepreneurial Development Initiative for Employment) Learning Brief:
Knowledge Attitudes and Practices Baseline Survey Report (2016)

Photos taken by Stephanie Gasana