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Female bricklayers, form setters, plumbers, riggers… these are the rara avis on building sites. And yet the construction of the Marga Marga Provincial Hospital in Chile by ACCIONA will prove to be an turning point in this scenario, because for the first time we can say that a building has been built entirely by female labor.
With the occasion of today’s Women Intenational Day, ACCIONA has mark a milestone with the construction of the Sala Cuna facility in Marga Marga Provincial Hospital, Chile, being all workers women. All of them are skilled and specialized in each of the tasks: flame-cutting ironwork, maneuvering metal plates, form-setting columns.
Six meters high and with a surface area of 750m2, the building, named Sala Cuna, is being constructed exclusively by women and will be the first infrastructure works in the country to be completed with gender policy in mind.
With this project, ACCIONA marks a milestone in the construction industry: democratizing female presence in all areas of the industry and putting an end to the age-old stigma, “leave this to the men”.
The initiative came from the company’s commitment to tackle labor inequality and give an opportunity to the female population in the area, valuing the role of women in the construction sector and more physical activities where male representation has always been dominant.
Indeed, in the ACCIONA Sustainability Master Plan 2025, one of the company’s main objectives is to contribute to the UN’s 2030 Agenda, in particular SDG 5 on gender equality.
Before the start of the construction works, ACCIONA set up four training workshops in Construction Techniques (Carpentry, Masonry and Metalwork) through which 120 women were certified. After this, the group of apprentices spent six weeks applying their theoretical knowledge in mixed work groups, alongside men already well versed in the daily work. During this time, the women acquired sufficient skill so that, after a few days, perfectly qualified, they could set about ironwork, concreting, waterproofing and installing the electrical system. From here on, a workforce of 35 women were responsible for raising the hospital annex, performing work such as earthing the power systems, soil compaction, reinforcing the foundations with steelwork and rubble, concreting, raising the perimeter walls and containment, connecting pipework to the water collection networks, and waterproofing.
Female participation in the general works for the Hospital was also extended to all positions, from site managers to supervisors, maintenance assistants, quality managers, BIM and environmental management, etc.
The idea of constructing a building from scratch with an exclusively female workforce is completely disruptive for the construction sector, laying down a challenge for it to incorporate the role of women in any construction works, and not only for engineering or administrative tasks. This milestone has been recognized with several local awards.
ACCIONA’s disruptive, pioneering project in Chile seeks to generate a reaction, such that this vision of a new, more open, workforce can become rooted in the sector’s culture, where women are free to choose the career or trade they want to pursue, even where in the past it has been the province of men.