Walter Sees Women's Challenges in China


Angela Walter (Left) in Huairo, China, last month with a
Chinese university professor athe the NGO forum on Women.

Whether they are from India, Africa, or the U.S., women who are plumbers, laborers and carpenters face similar issues, says Andrea Walter, who helped organize workshops on non-traditional careers for women at the international Non-Governmental Organizations Forum on Women, held Aug. 30 - Sept. 8 in Huairou, a suburb of Beijing, China — held concurrently with the official U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing.

Walter, a member of the University's Professional Development Program, said those issues include: how women are treated on the job by their male colleagues; how to obtain continued training so they are not restricted to such tasks as directing traffic at a construction site; and how to reconcile inflexible work hours with raising a family.

"From listening to the women who are in these occupations now, it's tough," Walter said. "Their families resist their even going to get training. Once they get into a program, the attitudes of those training them and their co-workers are barriers. People tell them all the time they aren't capable and shouldn't be doing the job. And there are not a lot of role models out there."

Walter works at the New York Employment and Training Institute, where she trains employment center workers to make non-traditional jobs more accessible to women.

Why is it important to increase the number of women working at non-traditional jobs, which are defined as jobs in which fewer than 25 percent of the workers are women?

"Non-traditional jobs often pay more than traditional jobs, are more stable, and pay better benefits. This is an important issue to look at as we reform the welfare system. We want women to leave welfare and be self-sufficient."

Walter went to China with the No Limits for Women Project, sponsored by the Re-Evaluation Counseling Communities.

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