Taking a stroll around Phnom Penh is enough to show anyone that the real estate and construction sector is booming. Investments have risen from US$840 million in 2010 to US$ 3.3 billion in 2015. Amid such fast-paced development there are many hidden stories. As a passerby, we fail to notice the differences between the world behind the zinc fences and the green net wrapped around the construction sites and newly constructed buildings, and the world we all see from the outside. Most importantly are the people who are working inside those construction sites, who help build the high rises in Phnom Penh.

Currently, the construction industry employs between 175,000 and 200,000 workers, many of whom are unskilled and work informally as day labourers. An estimated 20–40% of the construction workers are female; many have relocated from rural areas of Cambodia to find work in the construction sector of the bustling capital. Female construction workers are often in the lowest paid positions, without access to equal pay for equal work and with little voice to advocate for improved working conditions. According to a report by the NGO CARE, women get paid an estimated US$3 to US$5 per day, compared to about US$5 to US$7 per day for men.

Meta House is cooperating with the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES) for the multi-media-project THE GREEN NET, which focuses on the working and living conditions of 13 female construction workers. The project is led by two female Cambodian professionals: Sophal Neak (photographer) and Kesor (researcher/blogger). Neak Sophal (born 1989 in Takeo), a graduate of the Royal University of Fine Arts, is considered one of the rising talents of the Cambodian art scene. In 2013, she won the Angkor Photo Festival, in Siem Reap. Kesor (born 1993 in Phnom Penh), a law graduate, has a desire to find out people’s approaches to life – their ways of thinking about the meaning of life and pursuit of happiness. She was initially involved in a project called “Labor Rights of Female Construction Workers” (LRFCW) with CARE as a Data Collector.

THE GREEN NET project entails the creation of a contemporary dance piece, in cooperation Amrita Performing Arts. Female Cambodian choreographer / dancer Yon Davy studied both classical and folkloric dance. Davy has always had a strong interest in contemporary dance and has been involved with workshops and performances with numerous choreographers including Emmanuelle Phuon, Bob Ruijzendaal, Peter Chin, Arco Renz and others and was a recipient of residency study grants for contemporary dance and choreography at the Taiwan National University of the Arts and in Surabaya.