World Day for Decent Work: Heard, respected, paid

A poster promoting CARE's Labour Rights for Female Construction Workers project in Cambodia

Saturday 7 October is World Day for Decent Work. CARE’s work on women’s economic empowerment has a major focus on dignified work for women. Kroeun, 52, has been working in construction in Cambodia for over 20 years. Thanks to a CARE project on Labour Rights for Female Construction Workers, she finally feels that she and her family can work safely.

This is her story.

“I left my home province of Prey Veng 20 years ago in search of work in construction. I am now married to another construction worker and together we have five children.

For many years, people used to not wear helmets or proper shoes when working on the site.

“The company provides belts for when we are working high up but most people would leave them and climb without safety equipment.

“I have joined all of the educational sessions provided at the construction site where I work and I feel like I have a better understanding of safety in the workplace. Now I experience fewer instances of swollen feet and the hard hats make me less worried about falling debris.”

Kroeun, a female construction worker in Cambodia
Kroeun pictured on the construction site where she works

“My children work in construction but on a different site so I make sure I pass on what I have learnt to them.

I’m happy they are making changes to stay safe. In addition, the company now takes action when people do not follow safety guidelines.

“From the lunchtime sessions I have also learned more about communicating with my husband. He used to drink 1-2 litres of alcohol every day, which worried me and was costing our family money.

“After the training I became more aware of the dangers of drinking and said to my husband, ‘It’s important to cut down because it’s better for your health. Now you need to stop drinking too much.’

I only needed to tell him once and now he doesn’t shout or cause trouble anymore, which is a relief.

“My son has followed suit and has also stopped driving after he has been drinking.

I am no longer worried and I feel happy that my family are now safe from harm.

Female construction workers in Cambodia work alongside men but are often paid less and have to work in unsafe conditions.

In this video from CARE Cambodia, women say: We deserve more. We deserve a safe work place. We deserve an equitable wage. We deserve a life free from violence. We deserve to be seen.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.