Every year, Habitat for Humanity and our partner Lowe’s sponsors an event called Women Build. Since the program started in 1991, Women Build has already built more than 1,600 houses within the US and in dozens of other countries. Women Build teams typically build more than 200 Habitat for Humanity homes per year.
Although 50 percent of the volunteer force for the Habitat for Humanity are women, many of them lack the training or skills to be on the construction site. As a result only 15 percent of the volunteers on construction sites are women. With Women Build, Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s train women with the skills necessary to be active on the construction sites and care for their own homes. It has proven to be an empowering build for women across the globe. For example, in India women were seen building homes for Habitat for Humanity and inspired local women to be independent, innovative, and to learn about ways to help their community as well and break free of the cultural stereotypes of women, capturing the true meaning of Women Build. (Jordan, P. (2010, March 12). Changing Perceptions. Habitat.org. Retrieved June 3, 2013 from, http://www.habitat.org/sites/default/files/wb_changing_perceptions_india.pdf.)
On April 21, 2013, Bay Area Habitat for Humanity began its fifth annual Women Build project with a 5k walk/run with 250 men and women participating. Through this amazing effort, they raised $45,000. For the next 12 Saturdays, 370 women and 170 men worked to build a home for Dionne Kelly. The construction rate reached an all-time high during National Women Build Week, May 4-11, 2013. During National Women Build Week, 55 women volunteered and worked hard to make the dream house a reality for Dionne. Dionne is a single mother of two children, Tristen who is seven and Ahrianna who is four. She is the supervisor for the patient advocacy department at a medical building company and lived in a two bedroom apartment with her son and daughter before the Habitat for Humanity home. The house that she partnered with us to work for has not only given her the opportunity to learn about construction and how to upkeep her own home but also the opportunity to put her earnings into an investment for her children. As a single mom, she wants to offer something to her children if something were to happen to her.
Seventy-nine percent of the recipients for Bay Area Habitat homes are single moms. Over the past five years every Women Build house has gone to a single mother. These statistics stress how important Women Build is to educate women in the basic techniques of construction so they can learn to care for themselves and their children through a well-kept home. The program has a promising future as it continues to assist and educate women about eliminating local low-income housing and poverty housing to better communities.