Amid such fast-paced development, there are many hidden stories. As passers-by, 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 important are the people who are working on 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 laborers. 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.
In 2016, Meta House cooperated with the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES) for the on-going multi-media project THE GREEN NET, which focuses on the working and living conditions of female construction workers in Cambodia. The first project leg was led by two female Cambodian professionals: Neak Sophal (photographer) and Chea Kesorphearom (researcher/blogger). Neak Sophal (28), the 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. Based on Kesor’s research, Neak Sophal portrayed 13 female construction workers on construction sites in and around Phnom Penh. The resulting photos were exhibited as large-sized prints with short captions in English and Cambodian language.
In 2017, Meta House / KDKG seeks to continue its successful cooperation with the
Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES) through the following: two short video documentaries, one dance performance video (capturing Yon Davy’s live performance), extension of an Internet blog, and a press launch event with the New Photo exhibition. The second leg of the GREEN NET project will be executed by female Cambodian filmmaker Sao Sopheak, female Cambodian journalist Hang Sokunthea and a team of Cambodian professionals.