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  • Andrea Juarez

SAPL students help build a home and a more equitable future for women


From left: Tugba Altin, Urvashi Tiwari, Soumya Shashidharan, Veronica Briseño Castrejón Claire Heidenreich, Colleen Ogilvie, and Nooshin Esmaeili / Andrea Juarez

Students take part in Habitat For Humanity’s Women Build 2022, pitching in to help construct a northeast Calgary home


This article originally appeared on UToday.


Students from the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) were all hands on deck to help build a home — and address painful inequities faced by women today — at Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build 2022 program on Sept. 21.


Part of an international initiative, Women Build 2022 sought to highlight the importance of women in industries in which they’re underrepresented, such as construction or energy, while raising funds to provide affordable housing options for women and their families.


Accompanied by instructor Nooshin Esmaeili, female SAPL students helped build and construct a family home in the Cornerstone Community of Calgary’s northeast.


“We are designers, architects, planners, and landscape designers  —  we care, and that is why we want to create positive change for those in need,” says Esmaeili.


Under the guidance of construction professionals, students took a proactive step in serving and strengthening their community, while exposing themselves to a new skillset that will allow them to bridge what’s learned in the classroom to the real world.


“Participating in this event not only gives you practical and technical expertise on how houses are built in your city but also creates meaningful bonds with the place you live in and its people,” says Veronica Briseño Castrejón, who is in the Environmental Design doctoral program.


“In our practice, it is necessary to identify the conceptions and actions in which architecture reproduces violence, domination, and power over women and the land,” adds Briseño Castrejón.


“Events like these give us the opportunity to be part of the solution and reflect on the fact that the ways of managing, designing, and producing our habitat must be addressed together, collectively, consistently, and ethically.”


According to Habitat For Humanity’s website, women and children are the populations most at most of ending up in unstable living conditions.


In fact, 11 per cent of Albertans live in housing that is either unsuitable or inadequate, and more than 81,240 families in Calgary are in need of affordable housing.


“It’s almost impossible for a single parent to buy a home in the regular market,” says Jorge Torres, fund development manager at Habitat for Humanity  Southern Alberta.


“That’s why we focus on offering options for those single parents, who about 47 per cent are women.”


Ultimately, the Women Build program is not about excluding men, but about including women.


“We need equity of opportunities when it comes to careers in the trades, architecture and in the engineering fields,” Torres says. “Students could see this as an option”.


Habitat for Humanity’s International Women Build Week is an annual week-long event created by Habitat’s Women Build program in partnership with Lowe’s. SAPL served as a sponsor to support this initiative.


“I would like to ask other schools, firms, and companies to join in us supporting this event in any way you can,” Esmaeili says.


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