9 to 12% of women workers faced sexual harassment at construction sites

A first of its kind assessment was done on gender issues in major hydropower, road and bridge construction project sites in Bhutan, including communities in the vicinity of those sites.

Though the construction industry accounts for more than 5 percent of the total labor force, only 13 percent of them are female workers.

The assessment found there is a deeply-gendered occupation segregation where women mostly occupy lower-level unskilled work, such as administrative assistants.

The anecdotal evidence supports that the presence of large number of non-Bhutanese male workers can exacerbate the risk of gender-based violence against women workers and the girls and women living in the vicinity of the project sites.

The findings show that the proportion of women who experienced workplace incivility, bullying and sexual harassment in hydropower sites in the last three years are 12.14 percent, 14.78 percent and 9.23 percent respectively.

The figure in road construction sites in the last three years for workplace incivility, bullying and sexual harassment are 16.00 percent, 8.00 percent and 12.00 percent respectively. In the bridge construction sites, it was 33.33 percent, 22.22 percent and 11.11 percent respectively.

Meanwhile, the assessment shows that, “The proportions of women and girls who experienced physical, emotional and sexual violence as a result of living in the vicinity of hydropower construction sites are 0.81 percent, 4.03 percent and 3.23 percent respectively.”

Among the many expected outcomes, the assessment will detail out the roles and needs of women in the three sites, as well as to detail out gender disparities and discrimination. It is also expected to improve measures to prevent and mitigate risks of sexual harassment and GBV in those three sites.

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