Last month, Honolulu Habitat for Humanity’s Wahine Build mobilized hundreds of women in support of affordable housing on Oahu. Across five weekends, more than 125 female volunteers helped construct a 2-bedroom home in Waimanalo and raised funds for the development of new, affordable homes.
“Women are disproportionately underrepresented on Habitat’s construction sites,” said Bri Littlefield, Honolulu Habitat Director of Philanthropy, “Wahine Build empowers women to learn new skills, step out of their comfort zone and contribute to their community. It’s not about excluding men – it’s about including women.”
Women currently account for 30% of volunteers on Habitat build sites. Over the next 5 years, Wahine Build aims to increase the participation of women volunteers to 50%.
Throughout March, volunteers worked under the guidance of construction professionals and were provided tools, training and equipment needed to safety construct a house.
On the build site, women learned how to frame and raise walls, assemble scaffolding, install windows, siding and hardware, and paint the house exterior. They were also trained in safely using power and hand tools – from correctly swinging a hammer to operating table saws, women were invited to participate at their level of comfort.
Most participants were first time volunteers with little-to-no construction experience.
By providing a safe and comfortable learning environment, Wahine Build empowers women with the skills and confidence to continue volunteering on Habitat jobsites.
In addition to raising walls and hammers, volunteers also raised critical funds for Honolulu Habitat to continue building affordable housing on Oahu. More than $80,000 was raised, including corporate sponsorship from industry partners.
Wahine Build was presented in partnership with Servco Pacific Inc.
“We are proud to be the Presenting Sponsor for this year’s Wahine Build in partnership with Honolulu Habitat for Humanity. This partnership aligns with the goals of our Wahine Allyship Group, who are excited to participate in this special event” said Peter Hirano, executive vice president at Servco Pacific Inc.
Hensel Phelps, Nordic PCL Construction, Ward Village and the Swinerton Foundation also sponsored build days during March and rallied female employees to participate in building the home.
Wahine Build also offered weekly skill-building workshops hosted in partnership with City Mill. The workshops covered topics ranging from power tools to drywall patching. The workshops were held every Saturday at City Mill locations across the island and were designed to teach women skills needed to build, repair and maintain homes.
The program was driven by a committee of 24 women leaders from various industries. Led by chairperson Pamela Nitta, Special Projects Division Manager for Nordic PCL Construction, committee members supported the development, planning and execution of Wahine Build.
To learn more, make a donation or get involved visit wahinebuild.org