CELEBRATING THE POWER OF NEPALESE FEMALE MASONS
March 30, 2022
We are incredibly honored to have a dedicated group of five Nepalese female mason trainees working on our Nepal Relief Program. We piloted the Female Mason Training Project back in 2017 and it has since held strong, continuing to dispel the stigma that women cannot work in skilled construction jobs and recognizing the vital role women play in building up their community in the wake of a disaster.
We are honored to share below the story of one of our female masons, Indra who has faced and overcome many adversities in her life and has found a path forward with the opportunities this training will open up for her and her community.
Indra, aged 35, resides in her home with six family members in a house made primarily of wood in Dudhauli, Sindhuli. She owns a meager plot of land which is consistently threatened by stream bank erosion from the torrents of monsoons.
Throughout her life, Indra had to confront many challenges; born into a highly impoverished family. Indra lost her father when she was two years old and was forced into child labor including carrying a bamboo basket filled with salts with her head. This situation led her family to force her to marry a man she didn’t know at the young age of eleven.
In her new home, she continued to experience challenges. Without the opportunity to gain an education or experience in skilled work, her husband was forced into low-earning, labor-intensive jobs.
The family was pushed into further economic chaos due to her husband’s struggles with alcoholism. The financial struggles, coupled with the rising number of children due to the patriarchal society giving preference to sons, compelled her to seek foreign employment. After spending six years abroad, she made it back to her home after clearing the family debt.
Despite Indra’s efforts to bring the family financial stability, the COVID-19 pandemic compounded their previous struggles, shutting down all economic activities. She was trying everything in her control to make money to sustain her family. She was elated when she heard the announcement from her relatives about All Hands and Heart’s female mason training program. At the same time, she was sad and anxious, assuming that she may not be enrolled in the program as she had not attained any school. Her happiness, she said, knew no limits when she was selected through the interview process.
When asked about her expectations of the training program, she replied, “ My village is renowned for storehouses of semi-skilled masons. But, there are no female masons because of societal gender stereotypes. Females are supposed to undertake low-paid menial jobs. This training will definitely help me impart lifelong masonry skills in addition to offering me additional income and, instilling confidence so that I can build a career in it.