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Creating opportunities for young women in Ghana’s construction sector

Alexandra Löwe
Leverage private sector for increasing youth employment and employability

Many youth employment programmes have struggled to achieve gender parity in enrolment rates. This is especially true for programmes that have focused on teaching skills associated with male-dominated sectors, such as construction. The Youth Inclusive Entrepreneurial Development Initiative for Employment (YIEDIE) consortium, which forms part of the Youth Forward initiative, provides training opportunities for young people in Ghana’s construction sector (see Box 1 for more information on YIEDIE). It has invested considerable effort into attracting young women, but female participation in training courses such as painting, masonry, tiling or electricals remains low: only between 2% and 6% of female trainees chose these types of courses. This is not unusual, as involving young women in sectors traditionally reserved for men is a complex process. It requires change in social norms, which is always difficult to achieve and usually outside the control of employment programmes. Vocational training programmes in Kenya, for example, have struggled to attract young women to trades such as car mechanics (Hicks et al., 2016), and in the UK Balfour Beatty plc has described its struggles to attract female trainees and employees (Balfour Beatty, 2018). The aim of this brief is threefold. Firstly, it provides an overview of experience and best practice from employment and training initiatives that have sought to encourage young women to take up work in male-dominated sectors. Secondly, it describes YIEDIE’s efforts in this area and to determine which have been the most useful for its young female participants. Finally, the brief draws out some elements for future programming. It begins with a brief look at methodology, before turning its attention to the challenges faced by young women who choose maledominated professions. The second half of the brief outlines best practices for supporting women