The female mechanic – The Zimbabwean story: “I’m writing my own future”
Giveth Mambo chose to become a mechanic because it is an unusual career choice for a young woman – I wanted to make my own life, the young Zimbabwean explains
My name is Giveth Mambo. I am 23 years old and live in Epworth, Harare, Zimbabwe. Since I completed my education at Young Africa [a skills training organisation that works in partnership with Serve] in 2013, I have been working in a garage in Harare city. It is my first job and has been a wonderful journey of personal growth.
It is difficult being a young girl in Zimbabwe, where good role models are rare. We have to depend on our own emotional strength to make good and positive choices. There is no support for us. Many young women have a poor attitude towards life and believe that they need someone to take care of them. They do not realise the importance of establishing their own independence.
Zimbabwe has always strived to achieve gender equality, but Sub Saharan Africa (in which Zimbabwe is included) is said to be one of the areas with the most women who entered marriage unions before they have turned 18 years old. When I was younger, I saw my 25-year-old cousin marry a young girl who was just 14 years of age. My father used to tell me “Giveth, always remember that you have to make the best choices for yourself”. His words have stayed with me like a magic spell.
I wanted to make my own life. I wanted to be treated equally and respected. I wanted to gain respect from my family, my friends and the society I live in. I chose to become a mechanic because it is an unusual career path for a young woman. I did not want the stereotypical profession that was expected of me. I believe that the influence of gender role stereotypes in Zimbabwe promotes low self-esteem, lack of confidence and lack of support at home and in the work place. I wanted to break the stereotype and become empowered to make my own decisions and choose a career that would be challenging.
While it was an easy choice to make, it was a difficult one to fulfil. My family were deeply concerned with my decision to study motor mechanics. They would have preferred if I chose to study something “lighter” and be like a “normal girl”. They would use my chest pain that I get occasionally as an excuse to discourage me from following my dream. However, my brother, Blessed, who is also interested in motor mechanics made no comments and always supported my ideas.
When it was time for me to enroll in the course at Young Africa, my father supported me wholeheartedly but my mother had reservations. She did not like that I had chosen to study a subject that was “unsuitable for girls”. When I began my class, I was pleasantly surprised and inspired as there were six girls enrolled in the course. Our teacher Mr Mugai was very encouraging and patient with us. He respected us for our keen interest in motor mechanics.
Studying and preparing to be a qualified mechanic was exciting. Blessed also enrolled in the motor mechanics class at Young Africa so we began a thrilling journey together.
I have always felt passionate about my studies and my work and my male classmates were wise enough to see that. If boys from other courses made negative comments, my male classmates always told them to back off. They would say “Hey! She may look small, but she is smarter than you!” There are times when my physical strength fails me and people may put me down, but I do not let it affect me. I know that my gender does not affect my ability, and I have proven that.
Blessed and I now work at the same garage. Our boss, Mr Perseverance Chivandire is happy with my work. I am hard working and always eager to improve myself. He has two daughters and I often think that this makes him an open minded person, enabling him to offer opportunities for women. There is one other woman in the garage. Her name is Ms Palmar, the garage administrator and she interviewed me for this job. She always tells me “I was so proud to be a woman the day you came for your interview”. I look up to Ms Palmar like an older sister. She is a great role model. Before I came to work here, she was the only woman, but she is empowered and has created her future.
She has inspired me to study for a higher qualification. I would like to be a top-class professional woman working in a motor garage. Yes, I would like to marry someday. I want a partner who treats me equally and supports my work and dreams. Today both of my parents are extremely proud of who I have become. My younger sister will be finished school soon and would like to study law. Being an educated woman in Zimbabwe paves a bright future for us. I am proud that my sister wants to study, choose her own career path and gain independence. When I completed my course at Young Africa I felt empowered. I am writing my own future.
Serve, Young Africa and women in sustainable development
Women play a critical role in sustainable development. When they are educated and healthy, their families, communities and countries benefit. Empowered women contribute to the health and productivity of whole families and communities and they improve prospects for the next generation. However, despite firm evidence demonstrating the importance of women’s empowerment towards reducing poverty, promoting development and addressing the world’s most urgent challenges, gender equality remains an unfulfilled promise.
Serve has worked in partnership with Young Africa Zimbabwe since 2008. Young Africa provides education, practical skills training and life skills training to over 400 young people daily. Over 1,000 young people daily access some service at Young Africa Zimbabwe. Empowering young girls and women is at the core of Young Africa’s programmes.
Life-skills training, incorporated into all courses at Young Africa, equips young women with knowledge and skills in areas relevant to their lives including sexual and reproductive health. In 2012, Serve were accepted onto Irish Aid’s four year Programme Funding. Irish Aid’s funding supports Young Africa’s skills training programme. Serve works very closely with Young Africa and have recently developed a Life Skills Training Manual. This resource will be used by all Young Africa facilitators over the coming years in delivering life skills classes to thousands of young people. Serve also has a long term volunteer placed at Young Africa Zimbabwe to support capacity building of our partner.
For more see serve.ie