Cambodia’s construction industry is booming, and high-rises are being built across the capital of Phnom Penh. With the city’s population doubling over the past four years, it has begun its transformation into a sprawling metropolis.
The industry employs a large number of migrant workers who flock to the capital in search of work.
Around a third of these workers are women, and photographer Charles Fox’s latest project documents them on the building sites.
Some of the women are just starting out, others hone skills learnt in the provinces, while others are from the masses of workers who returned from Thailand in 2014 after a crackdown on illegal migrant workers.
Many of these women have come to the capital with their family and friends, relocating to live and work on the building sites.
The sites can often be dangerous and female workers can receive lower wages than their male counterparts.
Despite this, the women of Cambodia’s construction industry are hard-working and driven, remaining resilient to the risks they face.
Five years ago, I came to Phnom Penh with my husband and my son. There’s no work for us at the countryside. The only thing we can do there is grow rice once a year.
But if it were financially possible I would quit my job immediately and return to my village. Then I would take care of my mother and be able to see my other children more frequently.
Three years ago a divorce and a hospitalisation put me in debt. I had to sell my house and my land, but it wasn’t enough to pay all my debts. So I came to the city to work on a construction site.
The great thing of working in construction is that here I get paid per week. You don’t have that when you work in the factory or in a hotel.
I have five children and they and my husband all work in construction.
Together with my husband I build elevator shafts. Our manager consistently sends us from one location to the other. Sometimes we stay at a project for one month, sometimes for two or three.
Unlike my friends who work in factories, I prefer working in construction as my whole family is here with me. Yet despite being close to my loved ones I face verbal harassment from male co-workers when they are drunk at night.
Its been three years since I arrived in Phnom Penh and I have been working in construction the whole time. My daughter is living with my parents back home in Prey Veng Province.
I try to save as much money as possible so my diet is limited. I also sleep at the construction site to save money so I can send it back to my family.
I have worked in construction for almost four years now. I have worked all over Phnom Penh for different construction projects from hotels, apartments to condos.
As a female worker here I am verbally harassed by male construction workers, but what to do? I have no other place to sleep. I can’t afford any private accommodation.
I have worked in construction in Cambodia for about two months now – prior to that I worked in Thailand for several years. As a mother of two, I have to work from early morning to dusk so I can afford to support my family.
I have no proper food or time to eat and I feel dizzy a lot of the time.
All photographs by Charles Fox.