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MCA-Malawi lighting women’s lives

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The ultimate benefit of the construction of 400kV power substations is to improve distribution of electricity and light the homes of many Malawians but women have already started benefitting from the construction projects.

In a country where women are likely to be sidelined in many spheres of life, the construction industry being one of them, MCA-Malawi has enforced a 25 percent minimum target of employment of women for infrastructure development projects (IDP) to all its contractors.

“Allowing women to take part in this project is one way of showing the world that women have the same capacity as men and there is no point in discriminating them,” says Mayesero Makhenjere, one of the female employees working as an assistant bricklayer at new Lilongwe substation .

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Although the initiative is recognising the abilities of women, the benefit so far is that women who have been employed are empowered economically.

Since being employed, Makhenjere has been able to take care of her family and save the surplus which she intends to use to start a business once the project ends.

“I would like to thank this initiative for realising that development affects people differently, depending on whether they are females or males and that we respond differently to situations too,” says Makhenjere, adding that enforcing plans that consider women to be part of construction works is commendable.

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She says once women earn the money, the first thing is to think of what they need in their homes.

“We care so much about our homes, what do our children need and then think of ourselves last while most men think of themselves first and their families second,” she adds.

Already, there is considerable evidence that Africa’s impressive economic growth unequivocally has benefitted from women’s contribution, through agriculture, trade, small and medium scale, as well as informal businesses, employment in the formal economy and unpaid care work. Just like other African countries, women in Malawi play an important role in production, therefore, should not be left out of any economic activity.

The small push, through MCA-Malawi’s Social and Gender Integration Plan (SGIP), has far-reaching benefits and further recognises women’s contribution to the economy of the country.

The plan calls on contractors to implement a non-discriminatory hiring and wage policy and encourages contractors to provide basic training for unskilled local labour.

Employing local women ensures that contractors are implementing strategies to eliminate discrimination at the workplace.

Larsen and Toubro Clerk Officer, John Kawunga, says women’s economic empowerment leads to prosperity for families and communities.

“Jobs for women can have positive spillover effects on poverty reduction through greater spending on children’s health and education and on family as compared to majority men who spent most of their money on beer,” Kawunga says.

Larsen and Toubro has exceeded the target by five percent. About 30 percent of all local employees working at the Nkhoma substation in Lilongwe are women.

MCA-Malawi’s SGIP emphasises the use of local workers in infrastructure construction as a positive community contribution by contractors. It ensures full participation of women and facilitates their capacity to draw benefits from the construction works and other related operations and businesses.

The SGIP also aims at ensuring that women benefit from employment opportunities in IDP contracts by developing effective communication through community awareness meetings and working with local leadership on employment opportunities targeting women and encouraging available women to apply for jobs at construction sites.

The $350.7 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact is funded by the people of the United States through the MCC for Malawi Power Sector Revitalisation Programme

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