Ursulina Guaramato and Claudia Tisoy apply special glue to connect pipes in one of the 95 apartments they are building with other women.
In this housing estate in Antimano, a popular district of Caracas at the foot of the famous El Avila mountain, 80% of the workforce is made up of women, mostly single mothers.
The collective benefits from a government program of “self-construction” of houses, which provides free materials and technical advice.
That the majority of the members are women was not planned. "A coincidence" of which they are now very proud in a country like Venezuela, which is very conservative and where construction work is generally reserved for men.
"We are in a patriarchal society but we have broken the paradigms", welcomes Ayari Rojas, one of their spokespersons.
Most of these families lived with relatives, sharing often cramped houses or apartments. The program gave them access to housing... provided they built it.
The group of women builders includes nurses, teachers, beauticians... At first, none of the 75 "workers" knew anything about plumbing or masonry. "My thing was baking," laughs Ursulina Guaramato, 49, as she measures a PVC pipe.
The women of the collective cut the metal rods, prepare the concrete, coat the walls with a trowel or organize the piping network... No step escapes them.
The first apartments of these two six-storey buildings (out of a total of 95) are due to be completed this year after eight years of work. And, the construction has forged links.
"I'm proud to see so many women here learning, we're all here not only to build homes but also a community," said Claudia Tisoy, 43, who will occupy one of the apartments with her four daughters. and her one-year-old grandson.
"Several times, we were told: here are the tomboys. We suffered horrible comments", says another member of the collective, Yrcedia Boada, a saleswoman in a store.
Economic crisis marked by years of shortage, hyperinflation affecting the price of materials, Covid-19 pandemic... The work was not built in a day and the women overcame many pitfalls on the way.
Among the workers are 20 men, including Luis Pérez, the son of Ursulina Guaramato. He started helping on the site at the age of 17 and, in two years, he learned masonry and carpentry, but he respects the knowledge of his mother, now a specialist in reinforcement and reinforced concrete: " This is the first time I have met a woman who has mastered armatures. My mother is a warrior".
07/03/2023 07:47:35 - Caracas (AFP) - © 2023 AFP