Women Who Build: Vamos a Zoomar Project
Women Who Build (Mujeres Que Construyen) is an initiative led by Vamos A Zoomar (VAZ), an Argentinean foundation working to create space for women in construction. Their mission and their success are an inspiration for all of us. Find out all about a project that may encourage you to get involved with the construction industry or many others traditionally reserved just for men.
The construction industry grants only a limited access to women and other marginalized groups based on cultural biases despite it being one of Argentina’s main economic activities. One that saw considerable growth in the past year.
Through Mujeres que Construyen (Women Who Build), VAZ (aligned with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)) provides the necessary tools for women in the country. Giving them an opportunity to prosper economically while becoming part of a community that supports them and helps them to grow. The program is sponsored by Fundación TECHO and Argentine construction giant, Familia Bercomat. With additional support from UN WOMEN and the Netherlands Embassy.
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What is Mujeres que Construyen (Women Who Build)?
Aline Verastegui – What is the program Zoomadoras: Mujeres que Construyen (Women Who Build)? Where is the initiative available?
1Vamos a Zoomar – Mujeres que Construyen (Women Who Build) is a Vamos A Zoomar initiative dedicated to reducing the gender gap in the construction industry in Argentina. The program, promoted by TECHO and the Bercomat Family, with the support of UN WOMEN and the Netherlands Embassy, carries out a systemic approach focusing on three lines of work:
2Training: Through free face-to-face and virtual workshop focusing on different trades, which also include a discussion on gender perspective and aims at preparing women for employability. On-site training includes building improvement practices in community spaces. In these two years of work, more than 300 women and other marginalized groups were trained in 12 workshops in the provinces of Misiones, Formosa, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Santa Fe, Chaco, and the Province of Buenos Aires.
You can see some videos of the workshops here.
3Awareness: Through actions that make the existing gender gap in the sector visible. Evidencing the need to break down the physical and symbolic barriers that prevent the inclusion of women and marginalized groups in the field. For example, we made the documentary Mujeres Que Construyen, which tells the story of two women, from Chaco and Misiones, who carved their place in the construction industry.
In 2022, the short received a special mention at the Lapacho de Chaco Festival. It was also selected to be screened during the Rural Film Festival (Corrientes) and received an honorable mention on the CINE.AR platform (where it will be able soon).
4Employability: To facilitate access to formal work and self-employment, we build networks with the different players in construction and provide tools for job placement. Helping women through mujeresqueconstruyen.org (which has been up and running since the start of 2023) by connecting them to their first professional work. The platform is promoted as a tool that lets them perfect what they learned during the workshops while also helping them network.
The protagonists of the documentary were trained in Buenos Aires in alliance with Barbieri to become steel frame instructors in their provinces. An agreement was signed with the construction company CL de Chaco and Lighthouse in the City of Buenos Aires for professional practices.
Free Training for All
AV – What are the free training sessions of Mujeres que Construyen (Women Who Build) about? Do they get any certifications?
VAZ – The free training consists of a first meeting where the importance of the gender perspective in the field is worked on. Then, one on cost estimation and budget imparted by Familia Bercomat employees, followed by a series of theoretical modules on the specialty of their choosing (masonry, dry construction, ceramic placement, painting). Finally, the practical part of all the workshops consists of the repair or improvement of a community space.
Nine community spaces have been improved by them so far, including the restoration of a locker room to promote women’s soccer, the construction of a commercial space for local and native entrepreneurs, as well as building three medical offices for primary care, among others.
AV – How did your association with TECHO Argentina and Familia Bercomat come about?
VAZ – The most powerful way to incubate and create solid social investment projects is through the union, strength, and involvement of all sectors. In this case, that of two organizations that could complement each other to transform reality. One private company and another from the third sector that already had knowledge in the industry. Thus, with the same commitment and objective incubated and promoted by these two organizations, VAZ was born.
A Roof by Women Who Build
AV – Can you tell us a little about the recent housing project that Zoomadoras trained by Mujeres que Construyen (Women Who Build) joined?
VAZ – Before closing the year, we added a group of nine women who participated in the painting training that we gave in Posadas, Misiones, to collaborate with TECHO in the construction of emergency housing in a town in that province. It was the first time that TECHO had a crew made up entirely of women. There, a group of 8 women was summoned to participate in the construction of an emergency house that took place the last weekend of November. After hard days of work, the house was ready and delivered to the beneficiary family. The action generated a strong impact in the community, which reacted very positively to the fact that it had been led by women.
The result revealed not only that the women were up to the job, but also that they were able to exceed all expectations and standards. The delivery of the house was also a moment full of emotion and recognition, which highlights the importance of empowering women so that they are involved positively in their communities. The reaction obtained strengthened these women’s desire to become a work crew and to join the industry.
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