By Dakarai Mashava
Several female rangers have been promoted to management positions over the past few years in the male-dominated Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks).
The “conservation queens”, as female rangers are popularly known, who have assumed senior management positions include regional manager (Northern) Kwanele Manungo and head of management services Doris Tom.
The group of powerful women in ZimParks also includes area managers Sharon Marimbe-Musakwa (Chivero), Constance Gurure (Zambezi), Nomsa Moyo (Matopos) and Agness Simakune (Matetsi) as well as curator Anna Pasipanodya who is in charge of all Botanical Gardens in the country.
The increase in the number of women in the top echelons of ZimParks has delighted Chivero Recreational Park manager Marimbe-Musakwa who became a ranger in 1989 when ZimParks had no women in its management structures.
“The first female area manager was (Doris) Tom in 2004. Since we now have around seven women in management it is my hope that more and more women will assume powerful positions within ZimParks,” Marimbe-Musakwa told the Daily News.
The Chivero Recreational Park manager wants the relevant authorities to take bold measures to achieve gender parity in ZimParks.
“We still feel that we are still far from achieving gender parity in ZimParks. I think more could be done if we are serious about gender equality. Most of the female rangers are not motivated because they largely feel that there are not many chances for them to go to the next level. There are not many female senior rangers in the national parks and I think (it’s) because of the patriarchical mindset,” she told the Daily News.
Currently, there are four female area managers out of 30; a scenario Marimbe-Musakwa believes is unjustifiable.
“I even think that we could even have more female area managers than men and more female regional managers than men and yes why not?” the Chivero Recreational Park manager asked.
Musakwa was, however, quick to point out that female rangers in ZimParks should be promoted solely on merit.
“I am not a fan of affirmative action. There are women in ZimParks at various levels who are competent enough to be promoted.
“The female rangers are fairly incorruptible; they mean business they have no time to waste… Even at management level, if you were to ask the director general to identify his key stations, he will tell you that the ones under female area managers are among his main stations.
“I can assure you that the women that are at management level at the moment are unbreakable.
“I even think I am even very qualified to be promoted and I even aspire to be the director general at some point in the future and I don’t think there is anything that should stop me from getting there; I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t achieve that,” she said.
Musakwa conceded that women are likely to play second fiddle because of the masculinity of the work.
“There are quite a number of challenges especially at the point of joining. The job is very masculine. Women continue to be a minority because it requires someone who is strong-minded; physically strong. Not many women find this very attractive.
“Though there have been improvements since 1989 when I joined, you will find that even the women who join ZimParks quickly move to softer sections of the organisation like tourism, finance or human resources.
“As we are crying for gender equality, we just hope young women will take the bull by the horns and say we are here and join ZimParks even though the selection process is very rigorous,” she told the Daily News. – DailyNews