Dressed in blue overalls, BÃ¡rbara Burruchaga pulls a rope to lift buckets of sand up to the roof.
Along with other Argentinian women, she breaks stone, mixes concrete and builds walls – they don’t just build houses, they break down barriers.
“Being a mason makes me happy, we were told ‘no’ for a long time,” Burruchaga told AFP.
“I love to tell my dad, who is the most surprised and least confident person,” added the 21-year-old as she carried equipment to renovate an old cultural center on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Change is happening quickly in the industry.
According to the construction workers union UOCRA (UniÃ³n Obrera de la ConstrucciÃ³n de Argentina), the number of women in the industry increased by 131 percent from 2003 to 2010 and they now represent five percent of the workforce. artwork.
It may not seem like much, but compared to other Latin American countries like Mexico (0.4%), it is significant.
Burruchaga is one of eight members of DeconstrucciÃ³n Disidente (âDissident Deconstructionâ), a collective of women and gender minorities dedicated to construction work.
One knocks down a wall while others mix concrete while listening to music and drinking the local traditional mate infusion.
The patriarchal system “says we don’t have the strength for these tasks,” said Eva Iglesias, 36.
But “not all builders are big and muscular, there are a lot of shorties with bellies,” added little Iglesias.
Most of them suffer from back pain, but “they don’t say it because they can’t look weak.”
” Go make the dishes ”
There are a growing number of women’s construction groups operating in Argentina.
Nosotras lo Arreglamos (“We Fix It”) is a feminist collective that posts construction workshops on Instagram and functions as a professional network.
‘Dissident Deconstruction Network’ is a WhatsApp group with 90 members working in architecture, construction, plumbing, electrical and carpentry.
Some bands, however, are designed for women who need help with their crafts.
Hairstylist Valeria Salguero, 34, couldn’t afford to hire a contractor to build an extra bedroom for her daughter.
She created a Facebook group called ‘Building, a woman’s thing’, to seek advice.
The result was “crazy”.
In just one month, she had amassed 6,000 subscribers – mostly single mothers – including from Uruguay and Costa Rica, all eager to fix their own homes.
While some of the comments were negative – âgo do the dishesâ or âfeminaziâ – she was recently contacted by an international construction company who offered to train and employ an âall-femaleâ team.
Carolina GutiÃ©rrez, architect and builder, says women-only construction sites are necessary.
“When there are men and women, [the women] automatically receive cleaning jobs, âshe said.
They also suffer from harassment and pay inequalities.
âWe’re a long wayâ from equality in mixed sites, she said.
But even the government is getting involved in encouraging women to take up the building profession.
In April, President Alberto FernÃ¡ndez inaugurated 48 houses for vulnerable people built by mixed teams in the suburb of Avellaneda, south of the capital Buenos Aires.
The Peronist leader caused a stir by specifically thanking the women builders. Twenty women aged 29 to 59 have been trained by the government and employed in house building, with pay equal to that of their male colleagues.
“The most important thing is that they gain economic independence,” said Magdalena Sierra, the Avellaneda chief of staff who created the project.
Andrea Figueras handled the female crew members who were “more perfectionists”, kept the site and materials “cleaner” and never lost any tools.
However, she says there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We come home and there are the children, the food, the dishes. They [men] go home and get food served. We have to create equal rights at home, âFigueras said.
by Yemeli Ortega, AFP