Flora Fadzai Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
THE popular expression, “the future is female”, has never been so apt in this generation as more women are taking up space in industries that were previously regarded as a preserve for men.
Women are breaking stereotypes that only men are able to do certain things and they themselves would rather be found sitting at home doing menial work.
As the world continues to commemorate Women’s Month under the theme #EmbraceEquity, Chronicle spoke to young women empowering themselves and grabbing opportunities in fields that were previously dominated by men.
In separate interviews, the young women spoke about what Women’s Month means to them and the significant strides the country has made towards gender equity.
Miss Nkosinosizo Khumalo (23) of Nkulumane suburb, who is studying Biochemistry at the University of Zimbabwe, said Women’s Month should be about celebrating women and all their endeavours.
She said women should be encouraged to continue breaking glass ceilings and seeking career advancements.
“When I told people I wanted to be a Biochemist and would be helping to purify the water that we all drink among other things I’ll be doing once I finish my degree, some people said this was not supposed to be a woman’s job because women are never focused and always think of other things apart from work. However, the world has changed and women are no longer scared to be in such fields and I can safely say they’re actually doing so much better than men,” she said.
Ms Khumalo said the stereotypes start from a young age, when students have to choose the subjects they want to focus on.
She urged girls to value education, break stereotypes and focus on pursuing one’s dream regardless of what society says.
Miss Roseline Musekiwa, a third year student at Lupane State University studying Film, Television and Media Studies said growing up, she used to hear people say the media was for men.
She said people would say it was not proper for a woman to work in a field where she would be meeting a lot of people.
Miss Musekiwa said she chose the media industry regardless of what she heard as a young girl as she realised women had to be given voices and prove that there is life beyond the kitchen and the labour ward.
She said she has since learnt that the media industry is male-dominated but that does not mean women can’t change the narrative for other girls.
“Celebrating Women’s Month in this era and knowing that I’m doing something that I love is really fulfilling. To me, it’s a month of celebrating the achievements and contributions of women in society. It means recognition and that society has finally accepted that what a man can do, a woman can do also, despite their gender differences. It means we’re finally being recognised as equals just like this year’s theme says,” she said.
Miss Tania Dube from Cowdray Park suburb who is currently at the Zimbabwe Institute of Wildlife Conservation studying Wildlife and Protected Area Management said women now have a better chance in the world as compared to back when they were not given an opportunity to go to school.
She said Women’s Month to her is very important as it gives women a chance to introspect.
Miss Dube said in her field, a lot of women still shy away from taking up leadership positions as most still view it as a man’s world.
“It’s hard to get a female professional hunter guide as women still fear being there. Women should never be discouraged by the work they see before them and end up thinking they’re not worthy of doing whatever is before them. I hope as we continue celebrating the month, more women are going to be encouraged to get out of their comfort zones and continue to shine,” said Miss Dube.
A second year software development student at the Zimbabwe Open University, Miss Fortunate Dube, said growing up, she always envisioned being an IT (information technology) woman as she used to marvel at the movies that would show IT geeks doing their work.
She said Women’s Month is a time to take a walk down memory lane and look at the progress made so far in emancipating women.
“When I used to watch the movies, I used to ask myself why a lot of the software gurus were mostly men. That’s what made me want to be an IT expert so that I can break the stereotype that women can’t be software gurus. However, I’m happy that over the years, a lot of job opportunities are asking women to apply. This shows that we’re now being appreciated and we’re capable,” she said.
Miss Prudence Mulauzi, who is currently on industrial attachment with a local company and is studying Chemical Engineering at the National University of Science and Technology, said she is happy women empowerment has taken shape and more women are taking up space in formerly male dominated industries.
“When I was looking for industrial attachment, I had challenges with getting placement as most companies preferred men who were strong and would be able to move around big items. But I appreciate how apart from this, times are changing and we’re being considered in such fields. This month, we need to emphasise women’s places in technological advancement and innovatioan,” said Miss Mulauzi. – @flora_sibanda