The construction industry is traditionally male-dominated. But times have changed and the 21st century is seeing more women actively involved in the construction business. Greenspan is literally hitting the nail on the head. Greenspan offered a number of programs and support services to promote women in construction. Josephine Aloo is one of the women who benefited from a 3-month course where she learned to control a ten tonne excavator. “I now fully control it and work in shifts with other male colleagues,” Aloo states, shyly in an interview she had with the standard. Greenspan estates combine personal development, business skills, technical skills and industry exposure. Through the initiative women have been exposed to new opportunities in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Construction supervisor Paul Wafula says that the greenspan shopping mall was built by 600 workers; 350 women being women and 250 men. He adds that there areas in construction women performed well. And that women had advantage over men in areas such as laying tiles, painting as they require patience and attention to detail. Well it is safe to assume women have more patience and attention to detail than men. Wafula also said that women are also better at taking instructions and argue less. Major construction departments in the project had at least 30% women; some had more women than men.
Greenspan had a construction policy where sections that did not have women were suppose to incorporate female apprentices. These apprentices were helped in building their skills until they are competent. The painting section started with just two women but after the training programme, more than half of the painters were women. Shirish Shah, the Managing Director of Greenspan Investment Limited, says his dream of giving women equal opportunity in life has been fulfilled by the project. “Ever since my days at the London School of Economics, I have always worked hard to ensure that women are not discriminated against in accessing economic opportunities,” he says. Shah says the quality of the finished units has totally wiped away stereotypes developed against women, especially in the male dominated industries.
Through the programme the lives of women has improved in many respects. It has advanced the women economically and it has also given women an opportunity to shape their lives and make decisions. Generally women earn less and are less economically productive than men in Kenya. Greenspan is the first major construction project to fully engage the services of women in a male dominated industry. The results, according to the developers, have been the perfect blend of beauty and quality for the finished units. Gender equality is important in its own right. Development is said to be a process of expanding freedoms equally for all people—male and female.