Female masons in rural Nepal help rebuild earthquake-hit country

Nepalese women stepped up despite prohibitions from traditionalists.

© Wikimedia Commons

Reconstruction of earthquake-hit Nepal stopped when there was a sudden lack of trained builders. Female masons then joined in, which has been a radical move in deeply traditional Nepal.

Phulsani Tamang, one of the victims of the earthquake that killed close to 9,000 Nepalese, said that her husband was working in Saudi Arabia, and so other men would still be busy attending to the rebuilding of their own homes. She decided to build a house herself.

Together with Tamang, nine other women in Baluwapati, a village outside of the capital Kathmandu, signed up for a training course to become stonemasons. “They said, ‘You are women so you can’t do it and you shouldn’t be doing it,’” said Phulsani.

However, a year later, she now has built eight houses. “Now the men walk by quietly when they see us working. They don’t dare to make negative comments.”

There is still a shortage of masons in Nepal and to address the issue, Swiss development agency Helvetas, with additional funding from the UK’s Department for International Development, has trained 6,500 masons, and a third of these trainees are women.

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