Gender and Technology Training Guidelines
Session 15 - Case Studies
5. Building hope; self-management and construction
Women living in a marginal urban settlement, an emergency camp of La Chimba in
the northern part of Santiago, Chile managed to turn the squalid area where they lived
into an area of permanent housing. One of the fundamental factors which helped
them achieve this was their realisation of the importance of groups joining together
with regard to production and non-paternalist training, in order to share their gender
perspectives and overcome their traditional inequalities in education.
As a result of crowded living conditions children suffer from Diarrhoea and bronchial
problems every year. Women began to realise that giving children Penicillin every year
was pointless if the cause wasn't got rid of. Thus the idea of building homes began to
take shape. The group that started with 40 women later enlarged as more women
For raw materials the women insisted that they wanted 'the best' so that the houses
would last till the end of their lives. By 'the best' they meant plastered brick. They
were tired of living in huts made of planks and mud. They started by collecting
existing material from each house, anything that could be put to use. They chose,
counted and cubed the materials they needed to finish the 40 houses.
After the women got organised they started publicising the campaign to get financial
and technical advice regarding the plans. They contacted non-governmental
organisations such as Youth for Development and Production who advised them to
first draw up their designs for the houses taking into consideration the “sanitary
huts” and the developed sites. But the next year, as a result of continuous floods, the
NGO couldn't offer much help. But they managed to offer them various designs that
the women in turn returned with their amendments. But the women were not entirely
satisfied with the designs as they wanted their homes to relate to the family and the
designers didn't successfully achieve this because they were not aware of what the
women wanted. Finally after the plans were decided upon, the women managed to
find financing wit the help of the same NGO.
With the combination of the women's determination and strength and the training and
information given by the NGO the houses started taking shape. They learnt the basic
details of building like layout and squaring off the houses. The women then passed
the information on to the others. But here the women faced some problems. They
were never trained in building or carpentry. Therefore they had to self-teach
themselves with leaflets and what a friendly technician told them.
The first part of the money was allocated to each family to buy raw material. More
money was given as the building progressed, proportional to the lineal meters built.
They also proposed a contribution for each family to be put in a rotating fund. With
the money donated women built the front of the house and part of one of the sides.
The ones who had started by themselves completed what they had already built while