A group of constructors from India visited St. Louis to learn more about construction in the United States. They were hosted by Tarlton Superintendent Beth Barton and others from Missouri Women in Trades, and they stopped by our office Oct. 10 to say hello before touring our Bryan Hall project site at Washington University in St. Louis.
Barton (pictured above, sixth from left) was one of several St. Louis women constructors to visit India earlier this year to see what construction looks like there. The stories and experiences these women have shared are educational and inspiring.
India has a larger percentage of women working in the industry than any other country – 40 percent. According to Vrishali Pispati (wearing red sweater), chief executive officer, Mumbai Mobile Crèches, the construction industry is the largest employer of migrant workers in urban India, and many workers live with their families on construction sites in the megacity of Mumbai and surrounding areas. Children of these workers are vulnerable to frequent relocations and harmful environments on the construction sites, which can adversely affect their health, education and development, she said.
Mumbai Mobile Crèches is a nonprofit group that supports children living in these places, promoting their safety, health and education. Established in 1972, Mumbai Mobile Crèches believes that stimulating care, proper development and education are inalienable rights of every child, and that these tools provide the most powerful and profound resources for escaping the cycle of poverty.
Pispati leads a team of more than 130 people offering a range of services to children living on construction sites without schools, clinics or safe places to play. On average, Mumbai Mobile Crèches runs 20 to 30 centers annually at a time, in rooms allotted by builders at the sites, reaching around 4,500 children each year. The organization reports having helped more than 100,000 children since 1972.
Archana Women Centre was started under the leadership of Thresiamma Mathew (wearing fuscia tunic) of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate in the year 2004. Its mission was to challenge the conventional male-centered concept of development by empowering marginalized and under-privileged women, especially from the construction sector, who are otherwise destined to remain low-paid “construction helpers” for life.
Training by the AWC has led to dignified and highly paid jobs of masonry, carpentry, ferro cement technology, bamboo technology and others for these women. The Archana Women’s Center has a wide variety of skill training programs aimed at empowering women and was the first program to promote skilled training for women. It has now helped more than 2,500 women become trained as masons and has led to the first 65-employee, all-female mason company, which built their own three-story training center in India. Now government and non-profit groups come from all over India and the world to visit Archana and emulate their successes.