Changing roles of women in housing processes and construction : the case of Lobatse Township, Botswana.
Kalabamu, Faustin Tirwirukwa.
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This thesis explores variations and shifts in gender roles in housing delivery and the construction. Although presently excluded from construction activities, women have in the past constituted substantial proportions of builders in many countries worldwide. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, for example, women have traditionally been responsible for building house. However, recent studies and reports indicate that women in Botswana and other countries in the region are grossly underrepresented in construction activities. The few women currently employed in the construction industry work mostly as labourers. Boserup and other scholars have attributed the gendered division of labour to economic development, technological changes, patriarchy, capitalism colonialism or modernisation Based on qualitative and quantitative studies undertaken in the township of Lobatse, Botswana, and adopting a pluralistic and holistic approach, I however posit that gender roles and relations are outcomes of negotiation and normalisation processes through which men and women (as individuals or in groups) use their power and positions in society to access and control resources and services. The outcomes and negotiation processes are themselves conditioned by a web of interacting and intersecting historical, social, economic, political and environmental factors. I further argue that in the context of Botswana, traditional gender roles were shaped by prevailing patriarchal ideologies and institutions, the country's fragile environment, subsistence modes of production, and frequent intertribal wars that characterised the region. However, men's takeover of housing and construction activities that emerged during the colonial period was due to the intersection of Western influences, men's temporary migrations to South Africa, commoditisation of labour and the introduction of the market economy. Women's exclusion from the construction industry has since been entrenched through the atrophication of women's traditional building skills caused by widespread preferences for exogenous building materials and Western style houses. Due to lack of non-traditional building skills, women have been forced to work as labourers in the waged construction industry or as unpaid managers, supervisors and caterers in self-help housing. Robbed of their ability to build houses, women have been obliged to negotiate new gender relationships and strategies for accessing and owning houses.
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