Zimbabwe: Army Closed to Women

TOP posts in the country's army and airforce are closed to women, a five-year strategic plan prepared by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development concluded.

Statistics captured by the ministry reveal that women were not represented in top decision-making positions in the army and the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ), thereby defeating government's stated goal of gender equality and equity.

However, the police and prison services have made strides in accommodating women in top ranks.

In the Zimbabwe National Army, the percentage of women who have attained the position of general, lieutenant general, major general and brigadier general was given as zero.

In the AFZ, the percentage of women occupying the posts of air marshal, air vice marshal and air commodore was also given as zero.

In the army, women were found from the rank of colonel (seven percent) while in the AFZ their presence begins at the rank of group captain (five percent).

The police has, however, tried to avail opportunities for women. Twenty five percent of women in the police force hold the rank of deputy commissioner, with 18 percent of them being either senior assistant commissioners or assistant commissioners. Seventeen percent and 15 percent of women were said to be occupying the rank of chief superintendent and superintendent respectively.

In the prison services, 50 percent of the women are assistant commissioners, chief superintendents (six percent), superintendents (19 percent), chief inspectors (14 percent) and inspectors (17 percent).

Cellina Chiduku of the Zimbabwe Economic Empowerment Council, said the empowerment lobby group was contemplating taking up the issue with security chiefs .

"The document brings to the fore some sad statistics on women representation in the top echelons of power within the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. While we acknowledge the milestones so far made within the legislature and judiciary, with the appointment of Vice President (Joice Mujuru) being the major highlight, it is a cause for concern within women affairs how is it possible that the top four positions in these so called hard skills areas do not have women representation," she said.

"It is therefore our wish to engage the Zimbabwe Defence (Forces) to understand what skills are required that are found in men and not in women that hinders them from promotions to such level."

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