Mqulwana urges women to “get more than just a foot in the door” of the construction industry

25 August 2008

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TWELVE women from throughout the Western are vying for the top prize in the Department of Transport and Public Works’ prestigious Construction Women of the Year award.

The overall winner, as well as the winners of each of three categories, will be announced at a gala banquet in the Market Hall in the Grand West casino complex on Thursday, 28 August.

Addressing more than 40 guests this morning at a pre-banquet breakfast at Rhodes’ Place in the City, Transport and Public Works MEC Koleka Mqulwana said: “I love the concept of the Women in Construction programme.

“I strongly believe that the barriers that prevent women from taking their proper place in all areas of the South African landscape – including the construction industry – should be kicked down.

“I know – and you know – that on a level playing field, women deliver when they say they will.”

The Minister, who has spoken out boldly about wanting to spread her message of transformation and relentless service delivery to communities throughout the Western Cape, added: “I’m thrilled that the finalists represent a wide geographical area of the Western Cape.”

But she also cautioned women-owned enterprises that they would need to work extra hard to make an impact in an industry that has proved difficult for most participants at the best of times.

“I don’t need to remind the majority of you here this morning that a business opportunity never comes knocking with a broad smile on its face.

“That is a myth,” she said.

“In fact, for women especially, a business opportunity usually comes rolling by in the pocket of a man with a frown on his face … with his hand shaped in a fist … and with a mindset that says: “I’m not sharing anything with a woman.”

Mqulwana added: “It’s sad but true that many aspirant business owners in the construction industry, who are women, have struggled to even reach the glass ceiling that has been put up so skilfully by men.

“Women in business have been kicked in the teeth and cast aside so many times that it is a miracle that so many have lifted themselves up and said: “We will keep fighting to get what is rightfully ours.”

She praised some of the big companies that were helping the programme by, for example, by offering mentoring services to women business owners.

And she said her Department – especially the Public Works, Roads Infrastructure and Expanded Public Works divisions – would continue to make opportunities available to women-owned enterprises.


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