By Katy Rhodes, Electrician, British Columbia
In Kerala, the Archana Women’s Centre puts women through a 3 month program but often has trouble recruiting women because of their traditional views of women’s work. You can imagine that if the women themselves need convincing, the community does as well. Thresiamma Mathews (founder of the Archana Women’s Centre) not only invests a lot of time preparing women to enter the training program, but has also negotiated contracts with government in order to establish a work report with these women in the community. I was in awe with her holistic approach.
We were able to visit the plumbers and the electricians during their workday, but we spent the majority of our time with the plumbers and were able to see their water collection filtration system from start to finish. Firstly, the concrete barrel was built at the Archana Women’s Centre. When the materials are brought to site they are ready to be installed. They then build a roof water collection system with PVC gutters and pipe the water into the barrel that is then filled with aggregate and charcoal layers with a tile to displace water so that it doesn’t shift the rocks during heavy rain. From there, the clear water enters the well. These communities get to see women doing this work and these women get paid very well for their work while they practice what they’ve learned in school. The pride that they show in their work is a universal feeling I’ve seen across trades and sectors in North America as well.
Although our visit with the electricians was short, I really loved that they were working at a school with young children. Normalizing women doing this work for children at that young age will influence their views of what is women’s work and help mold the culture of trades for future generations- a task that we have been working hard on in North America as well.