In Cambodia, Building Roads is Women's Work

Video | 4 November 2015

Cambodia is an overwhelmingly rural country with many isolated areas. A big part of the way the Asian Development Bank promotes inclusive growth in Cambodia is to invest in rural infrastructure and rural roads. This includes paving 500 kilometers of rural roads under the Rural Road Improvement Project. Plans are underway for another 1000 kilometers in 10 provinces. The construction of these roads is a major economic activity with estimates that it will generate up to a million days of work for people around the country. At an estimated daily wage of $4 to $5, that can put up to $5 million in the hands of the rural poor. These jobs have traditionally gone to men because construction contractors were reluctant to hire women, thinking they could only do housework. For their part, women said they had a lack of information about job opportunities. With grant assistance from Australian Aid, ADB designed a pilot project to help rural women capture some of the jobs and income from road construction. So far, more than 25,000 work days have been created for rural women. This has generated more than $100,000 in wages.

Transcript

Title: In Cambodia, Building Roads is Women's Work

Description:  Cambodia is an overwhelmingly rural country with many isolated areas. A big part of the way the Asian Development Bank promotes inclusive growth in Cambodia is to invest in rural infrastructure and rural roads. This includes paving 500 kilometers of rural roads under the Rural Road Improvement Project. Plans are underway for another 1000 kilometers in 10 provinces. The construction of these roads is a major economic activity with estimates that it will generate up to a million days of work for people around the country. At an estimated daily wage of $45, that can put up to $5 million in the hands of the rural poor. These jobs have traditionally gone to men because construction contractors were reluctant to hire women, thinking they could only do housework. For their part, women said they had a lack of information about job opportunities. With grant assistance from Australian Aid, ADB designed a pilot project to help rural women capture some of the jobs and income from road construction. So far, more than 25,000 work days have been created for rural women. This has generated more than $100,000 in wages.

Ready for Roads – New Jobs for Cambodian Women

SOT: Karin Schelzig
Social Sector Specialist
Asian Development Bank
Cambodia is still an overwhelmingly rural country with many isolated areas. A big part of the way ADB promotes inclusive growth in Cambodia is to invest in rural infrastructure and specially rural roads. ADB is assisting the Ministry of Rural Development to pave 500 kilometers of rural road under the Rural Road Improvement Project. Plans are underway for another 1000 kilometers in 10 provinces. The construction of these roads is itself a major economic activity. Continuous estimate that this road construction can generate up to a million work days for workers around the country. At an estimated daily wage of $45 that can put up to $5 million in the hands of the rural poor. These jobs have traditionally gone to men so we wanted to see if we could change that.

SOT: Socheata Kong
Behavior Change Specialist
17 Triggers
We wanted to find out what prevents women from pursuing this type of work. It was really the  contractors that were the main obstacle. They were resistant to hiring women.

SOT: Contractor
They can only do housework such as sweeping and cleaning, watch the kids, and cook.

SOT: Researcher
For their part, women told us the lack of information about job opportunities was their biggest problem.

SOT: Karin Schelzig
Social Sector Specialist
Asian Development Bank
Spending time in the field paid off. We shifted our focus to changing contractors attitudes and to providing better information to rural women.

With grant assistance from Australian Aid, ADB designed a pilot project to help rural women capture some of the jobs and the cash income. So far, more than 25,000 work days have been created for rural women. This means more than a $100,000 in wages.

We know that rural roads improve people’s lives in many ways but they also bring jobs. I’m sure construction work may not be the ultimate answer to women’s empowerment but it does bring cash for women in areas where jobs are limited.

SOT: Hang Sopolik
Social and Environmental Office
Ministry of Rural Development
I think that contractors have changed a lot because they understand gender issues. The training makes contractors stop discriminating against women, and they choose to work with women as well as men because women can also do what men can do.

SOT: Contractor
Our work has progressed well since we hired women. They’ve been doing their work just fine with no problems.

SOT: Khoun Sophorn
Road Worker
Takeo Province
It’s nice to work here. It’s easy to get to work, and it doesn’t take us a long time to get here. It’s very close to home.

SOT: Karin Schelzig
Social Sector Specialist
Asian Development Bank
By developing training materials for the Ministry of Rural Development, we have to influence the right genders addressed in future road projects. With the right approach and a relatively small investment like this one we can make a big difference in rural women’s lives.