30 year-old Kopila Nepali pulls out a large piece of iron rod and starts taking measurement to cut them into even sizes. She is currently preparing rods to construct strong pillars that would make her client’s house strong.
The last few months have been busy for Kopila as the demand for skilled masons like her have been increasing after the earthquake.
She is usually seen on different construction sites mixing concrete in right proportion, pouring them in different stages of construction and taking measurements of walls, woods and rods.
Kopila Nepali working on a contruction site in her home village. Photo: CARE
However, these skills were unknown to Kopila before she attended a seven days masons training provided by CARE Nepal and its partner with the funding support of ADH. “I was working as a mason before the earthquake, but people hardly called me to construct their houses as I had very few skills on masonry”, says Kopila.
She adds, “For most of the time I had to stay idle which meant that I was losing out on income generating activities”. However, when CARE Nepal came to Gankhu village with its program to train masons, Kopila was interested to sign up for it. “My husband encouraged me to attend the training because he realized that the demand for trained masons will escalate in the years to come”, says Kopila. She adds, “I am lucky that my husband is supportive; many men in the village do not let their wives work”.
Kopila’s husband, who just returned to Nepal from foreign employment, is supporting Kopila with household work when she goes out for work. With the combined income of Kopila and her husband, they are able to afford education of their three children and purchase grocery for their house.
With her own determination and support from her husband, Kopila is confident that she will get an opportunity to work as a lead contractor one day. She says, “Anything is possible if we have determination; I want to learn new skills by practicing masonry and progress in my profession so that I can make a good living out of it”.
Moreover, the role of her husband in supporting Kopila can sketch a picture of a society where gendered discrimination of work is not as strong. As she smiles thinking about her husband, she tells us, “He cooks food for us and take care of the children when I am out for work. Although few men still tease us about the work we do, my husband tells me to ignore them and continue with my work”, adds Kopila.
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