Angela Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
FEMALE officers in the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) are breaking new ground riding on Government’s gender policies that have created equal opportunities for both men and women.
A number of women are pushing the frontiers, smashing stereotypes that have for long held them hostage at the workplace and these include ZPCS officers.
This was confirmed recently at a pass out parade held at the ZPCS Ntabazinduna Training Depot where 402 officers graduated in Conversion, Intermediate Security/Intelligence, Basic Stores Management and Basic Internal stores courses.
For the first time since the country’s Independence in 1980, the ZPCS pass out parade was commanded by a woman, superintendent Stella Moyo.
Supt Moyo said she and a few other female officers seized the opportunity to face new challenges when they realised that the Second Republic stood for equal opportunities.
“When I joined ZPCS, there were different reactions from my male colleagues but what was encouraging was that most of them were supportive.
Confidence is all that is needed if anyone is to excel in what they wish to do,” Supt Moyo said after the parade last week.
She said some men were of the view that women cannot be good leaders and the challenge was for women to prove them wrong.
“When men realise you are dedicated, they are willing to help you rise. It’s not always true that men pull down women at work, what is just needed is positive attitude,” said Supt Moyo.
She said she was looking forward to leading the parade at national events to show that women are capable leaders.
Another female officer who defied the odds is chief Correctional Officer Portia Maseko (45).
She is the chief armourer and all those working under her are men.
Chief Correctional Officer Maseko said with the right attitude, women can become great leaders even in positions society generally perceives to be a preserve for men.
“Sometimes it’s not easy doing a job which for a long time has been viewed as a preserve for men. It takes courage and dedication to break such barriers. Our lives as women are always challenging but we always overcome.
No challenge should be too much for a woman because we always get things done even at home,” said Chief Correctional Officer Maseko.
She said she was attested in 1995 and after serving for that long, she realised that sometimes women are intimidated by challenging positions which militates against their advancement.
“As long as we feel that way, we have a long way to go as far as equal opportunities are concerned,” she said.
Correctional Officer Princess Ncube from Hwange who scooped the prize for the overall best student in Basic Stores Management outshone male colleagues.
The course was being offered for the first time by ZPCS and she emerged tops in a class of 102 officers.
Not only was Correctional Officer Ncube at the top of her class, but she was also one of only two females in the top 12.
She said women can do anything as long as they are determined and committed to achieving their goals.
“As women we go through a lot trying to balance our careers with motherhood and we end up thinking we cannot be achievers.
The role in the family should not be a stumbling block to our advancement in our different chosen careers,” Correctional Officer Ncube said.
She said she feels she hasn’t achieved much and she is therefore looking forward to continue climbing the ladder.
Correctional Officer Ncube said women should tell themselves that the sky is the limit in whatever job they are doing.
I wish to further my education and do social science. I just think we shouldn’t not be satisfied with being in one place, we should keep striving to advance and achieve.
You should stop playing with chickens if you feel that you are an eagle and don’t take yourself for granted,” she said.
Zimbabwe has made significant strides in promoting gender equality and women’s economic empowerment hence the increasing number of women in key positions in both the public and private sector.