35-year old Marondera woman defies odds

BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA

SITTING behind the wheel of a bus is no male domain anymore.

When a woman tears to shreds the traditional script which has been written in favour of men, the story takes a paradigm shift.

On March 15, Juwanitta Chirau-Mapangera (35) left home for Ruware Park Primary School in Marondera to take part in the interview for a school bus driver.

She knew she had the ability to take up the demands that come with the job.

Upon arriving at the council offices, she was the only female in the pack of 15 interviewees who had gone to try their luck.

Chirau-Mapangera impressed the panel and today, she has made history as the first female school bus driver in Marondera district as well as one of the few, if
any, in the entire Mashonaland East province.

“Of the 15 people listed for the interview, I was surprised to discover that I was the only female. I thought I was not going to make it and it got worse when
I learnt that some of the interviewees had about 10 years’ experience. My Class 1 driver’s licence was just four months old. I only got a call to confirm that
I had passed the interview after one week and I glorified God,” she said.

“It is described as a job for men, but I was confident that I could do better than them. I am so happy and I thank God for the victory. It has always been my passion to take up challenging jobs and God granted me my wish. I have made history and made my family proud.”

A mother of three, Chirau-Mapangera, who has been a holder of Class 4 driver’s licence since 2005, went for Class 1 tests in December last year and passed. She
also holds a Defensive Driving Certificate.

“I was encouraged by my defensive instructor to go for Class 1 despite me opting for Class 2. I vowed to give it a try and got 100% after writing the
provisional test for Class 1. It worked, and here I am,” Chirau-Mapangera said.

Her husband is a bus driver for one of the popular transport companies that ply the Harare-Johannesburg route.

It is now a family of bus drivers.

“I am in support of the upliftment of women. I am against individuals with patriarchal tendencies, those who think women are inferior. I urge other women to
defy the odds and take up the challenges. They should not wait for their husbands to provide for the family. It is time men know that we can do it,” she said.

Ruware Primary School Development Committee chairperson Augustine Marongwe confirmed that Chirau-Mapangera was now one of the school bus drivers.

“She has all the requirements needed for a public transport driver and satisfied a panel of five qualified personnel, including senior drivers, during both
oral interviews and road tests. So far, she has done well and we are impressed with her conduct,” he said.

“We have three drivers at this school who are all on contracts. Unfortunately, they are not permanently employed. We are happy that Chirau-Mapangera has enough
time if we need her services.”

Marondera-based gender activist Marjory Svisva said the move by Ruware Primary to contract Mapangera was a milestone towards achieving gender equality.
Chirau-Mapangera’s story tells of women who overcome fears and have vowed to deal with gender imbalances.

Today, with the determination of an athlete, she has made history by becoming the first female bus driver at one of Marondera’s biggest primary schools.

She is entrusted with the lives of the young boys and girls, a task she cherishes as a mother.

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