Snapshot Story: Female Construction Workers in Nepal

From my observations I can safely say that the construction industry in the United States is largely dominated by men. When passing by construction sites I rarely see a woman and if I do, she is usually holding a sign to direct traffic, not actually doing the manual work.

In Nepal, there exists a more equal balance between the male and female construction workers. Seeing a woman stacking and mortaring bricks at a building site is just as common as seeing a man doing the same job. Nepal lacks many of the big machines that we have in the US to assist with construction, for example, cement-mixing trucks. Everything is done by hand: laying bricks, mixing cement, digging earth, transporting rocks and putting up bamboo scaffolding. I have tremendous respect for anyone working in the Nepalese construction industry, for the intense manual labor that I see on the streets and at building sites looks to me to be literally backbreaking.

After growing accustomed to seeing women, both very young and very old, working construction jobs, I began to notice their clothing. Despite the messy, dirty chaos of their work sites, the women construction workers manage to keep their clothing incredibly clean and bright. There’s no coveralls for them, for they don their delicate and vibrantly colored saris and kurtas to work. There exists a contrast between the femininity of the women and the harsh nature of their manual labor. To watch women workers with their perfectly clean saris and kurtas transport bricks on their heads, smiling and laughing all the while, almost seems unreal.

3 thoughts on “Snapshot Story: Female Construction Workers in Nepal

  1. Alex Shrestha

    Hi Leah,

    Its always great seeing Nepal from your perspective, as we sometimes tend to forget the realities that surround us and just accept things as they are.

    From my experience working in the construction field in Nepal, I can say that women construction workers are very common and play a vital role in this industry throughout Nepal, however at present their roles are limited to more labourous physical work, for instance carrying bricks, sand etc rather than technical building part which is still dominated by their male counterparts.


    1. epicasia

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for the comment! Very interesting to know… I’m always so surprised to see women working construction jobs here because I never see that at home! You must get to see such an interesting cross section of the building industry in Nepal. I am fascinated with the whole thing, from the beginning designs, to the building, to the finished product. As an architect you must hear a lot about buildings in Nepal that won’t stand up to a potential earthquake. It’s scary to think about, but it’s something I think we really need to acknowledge here, because it would surely be like Haiti, Round 2, if a big quake were to hit.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

  2. Jerry

    Thanks for the commentary here. I’ve been to SouthEast Asia, but did not see any construction while there. Your synopsis makes a lot of sense here. The markets in SouthEast Asia are so different than here in the West.


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