The potential of the construction industry to empower the woman in Tanzania

A time has come if the law of 30 per cent tenders to women, youth, and the disabled are followed in the construction industry, that would be one of the greatest empowerment drives. It could lead to new employments for thousands of women in the industry.

By Maida Waziri

That there is a great need to motivate and inspire women to enter and excel in male-dominated Industries like construction, is not a question but an answer that must be worked on at all levels, for the long-term good of our beloved nation.

From 2015 to now economic activities that have recorded the highest growth include mining and quarrying; water supply; transport and storage, information and communication, and construction.

Yet the number of female owners and managers in those most lucrative sectors are too few, to talk home about. Even in agriculture, which employs the majority of women, major decision makings are male-dominated.

In my sector, the number of female contractors is too few. At the highest echelon- building/construction class one to three, it is minute.

According to the Contractors Registration Board female managed contractors in Tanzania are 540 ( about 186 general, 354 labour based) out of 11,918 companies.

This means only 22 percent of the contractors are women. Even then the majority in the 22 percent are merely in the less lucrative labor-based contracts. Only about 186 women-managed companies, I would say, are in a position to compete in the hard world of the construction industry.

The hard reality is that women contractors have got a long way to go in Tanzania. A few of us, who have dared the industry, it is a constant struggle, and guess, what, there are no favours.

In the industry, even the 30 percent tenders that are supposed to go to go to women, youth, and the disabled, that criteria in the construction, I have never seen it being followed all the years I have been in the industry.

Going back to our history as a nation, we have Masaai women who make houses (Inkajijik), the beautiful circular or loaf-shaped houses. I think that one is one of the best examples I can give, about women in the construction industry. No one in Tanzania or elsewhere should ever say, women cannot make it in the construction industry.

Normally, in Tanzania and other African nations, women are still seen as the ones to be responsible for household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and childcare, while in industrial development, they are left out.

A time has come if the law of 30 percent tenders to women, youth, and the disabled are followed in the construction industry, that would be one of the greatest empowerment drives. It could lead to thousands of women in the industry.

We are living in a world where if low-cost solutions are promoted in building design, building material, and building technology, in a policy environment, where women are assured of a cake in the industry, it would go a long way in realizing the great potential women have in Tanzania.

We have a greatly able woman President, Her Excellency Hon Samia Suluhu Hassan. She has the best intentions for Tanzania. And one of the thing that policy makers and implementers should do to support her cause, is to ensure the 30 percent requirement for government tenders, goes to the special groups as intended. A time has come to stop the excuses.

*Maida Waziri is the President of VoWET (Voice of Women Entrepreneurs in Tanzania), and the CEO of Ibra Contractors Limited