Women in security sector battle mistrust

HARARE - Women in the countrys security sector are faced with mistrust and a lack of resources that inhibit them from ascending to top positions.

A workshop on The Empowerment for Women in the Security Sector was carried out by the Women Coalition in

Zimbabwe found that the security sector 31 years after independence remains dominated by men.

Women from the Presidents office, the Zimbabwe Prisons Service and the Zimbabwe Republic Police attended the workshop that was shrouded in suspicion and not attended by the Zimbabwe National Army.

Said WCoZ, Gender related challenges (in the security sector) include lack of resources to focus on the empowerment of women and to support gender training in this sector, the lack of access to modern technology to link with other local and international womens organisations, negative cultural beliefs on the role of women, resistance to female leadership by male officers and the marginalisation of women.

Since the attainment of independence in 1980 no woman has been head of the police, the prison service, the army or the Central Intelligence Organisation.

The workshop heard that women from the Presidents Office were failing to progress academically and professionally as they find it difficult to move away from families when they are promoted.

In its recommendations WCoZ called upon the government to introduce gender sensitivity at the recruitment stage, incorporate gender into the training curriculum, formulate gender policies and mobilise resources for economic empowerment of women in the security sector.

Progress in championing the course for women is hampered by, among other things, mistrust between the security sector women officers and non-governmental organisations.

So deep is the mistrust that the Zimbabwe National Army failed to send its members to the workshop and therefore a important security sector was not represented.

While the workshop noted equal opportunities for women in terms of Peace-keeping missions, it raised concerns at the fact that most of the architects of the missions were men.

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