Soun Srey Ya

An outgoing woman, Soun Srey Ya, age 38, has been involved in construction work for about 10 years. She also experienced a few other jobs before working in construction, which included jobs as a morning-glory seller and as a garment worker. She quit the garment factory because of internal problems at the factory. After quitting, her neighbor asked if she wanted to work in the construction sector.

Following her neighbor, Srey Ya started off at the 42 Tower construction site, receiving only US$3.50 a day. She’s been employed at the Aeon 2 construction site and Pong Peay City where her wage was doubled. Her job is tying rebar. Like other advocates, Srey Ya also raised her concerns about inequalities at work, for instance, getting lower wages than male counterparts. She demanded her basic right. She accepts calmly the nature of both genders and that men have more physical strength. ​ But she believes that what men can do, women can do too if they are taught.

When asked if she has had any injuries, she said embarrassingly that she was once badly injured under her waist line while working on the Vattanac building. She was wounded by a sharp vertical rebar.

With her and her husband wages combined, she said she can afford to look after her family and her children’s education. A proud mother of three, Srey Ya said her children have never caused any concern for her and the family, and added: “My three children are my motivation to continue working. They are the lights of my life. I want them to finish school and use their knowledge to find a good job with good salary. I don’t want them to follow my path that’s the reason why I am trying real hard.” She said that she is neither sad nor happy with the job, knowing that this job is risky and dangerous. If she doesn’t work in this sector, she doesn’t know where she would go or what she would do. She added, “it is just a way of living.” Besides working as a construction worker, she has another job as a housewife. She comes back home after a long tiring day to again do housework. She said she cannot complain even though she’s exhausted, she still said, “it is not tiring. It is my duty as a good mother.” In the future, Srey Ya has a goal to buy a house and sell groceries when she gets older– a stay-at-home mother who can cook good food for her children and wait for them to come home from work for dinner.

Srey Ya has a message dedicated to her children:

“As a mother, I want nothing from you. What I want most is to see you succeed in life and have a bright future. When you spend mother’s money, you should realize that the money you’re spending is from my sweat and tears working as a construction worker. Everywhere I go I pray for you three. You are my life.”