For women to be safe at work, people must be prepared to speak openly about women’s safety. Strong women and men who speak up if they see sexual harassment happening make it clear that this is not something that women should accept. They pave the way for change. Those who speak up about situations which could place women at risk make it clear that they respect and value the women they work with.
Mothea, 37, has worked in construction for nearly 20 years. She says she has always been outspoken, but recently she has been focusing her words specifically on the situation of women in the construction industry. As one of the peer leaders CARE works with through our partner Cambodian Women for Peace and Development, Mothea educates other workers on topics such as gender and occupational health and safety.
She is also becoming a role model for the value of speaking up to keep women safe at work. “My friend had a man follow her to the toilet and spy on her through a gap in the toilet wall,” recounts Mothea. “It made her scared to go anywhere on the site alone and she was worried it would happen again. I reported the incident to the supervisor and demanded the toilet got fixed. Not only was the toilet fixed, the supervisor reprimanded the man to ensure he would not act like this again.”
Mothea’s supervisor Sathya is another great example of how everyone, both women and men,
can take action to make workplaces safer. He manages the worker accommodation at the construction site and openly speaks out about what behaviour in unacceptable and holds people accountable for their actions. He also takes steps to prevent unsafe situations, such as ensuring all the rooms and communal bathrooms have good locks on the doors.
If people follow Mothea’s lead and speak up about sexual harassment, everyone will understand that this is not acceptable!
CARE’s work with women working in construction in Cambodia is funded by the European Union and the Austrian Development Cooperation. This work is in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.