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Exploring “breaking new ground” as a job creation mechanism for women in low-income housing construction: a case study of Kingsburgh West housing project in the Ethekwini Municipality.

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This study explored women’s participation in the construction industry, as well as their access to economic freedom in the same context. The study also sought to examine injustices and gender inequalities in the construction industry from the perspective of the Marxist, radical and liberal theorists. This researcher adopted a qualitative research strategy to assess the views of respondents in relation to the “Breaking New Ground” policy as a tool to create jobs for women in low-income housing. The researcher collected the data by conducting in-depth interviews with women-owned construction companies, government officials, employees, and independent organisations. The researcher used one of the low-income housing projects in Durban in the eThekwini Municipality as a case study for this research to established if the “Breaking New Ground” policy enabled the delivery of housing, and whether it is a suitable job creation strategy. The researcher achieved this by asking participants about the challenges they were encountering in the construction industry. This study also examined policies and regulations in place that drive the economic transformation of women in the construction industry in South Africa. Despite having more policies and regulations, the findings of the study revealed that the construction industry is still a male-dominated space. Furthermore, the findings exposed economic injustices and gender inequalities, which pose more challenges for women in the construction industry. The study, in this regard, recommends that the implementation of these policies and regulations be monitored as women in the construction industry are vulnerable and are often victims of patriarchy and gender inequality. This becomes a mandate for all stakeholders involved to improve monitoring guidelines to ensure the proper implementation of these policies. To this end, the study also recommends that the government make funding available for the training of emerging women contractors in management and tendering processes – as all work in South Africa is secured through the tendering process. Government must, in this regard, enter into agreements with financial institutions in South African to assist emerging women contractors with funding to their projects with low interest rates. It is, thus, the researcher’s view that establishing these recommendations will ensure the longterm sustainability of more women contractors in the construction industry.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.