Thursday, October 06, 2005
Women are bringing a wave of change to the South African Navy. In what used to be a male dominated sphere, the opposite sex are being empowered and are taking up leadership positions.
This was discussed today at the first day of a three day conference being held in Cape Town for women in the Navy. The SA Navy is giving women the chance to progress into key positions. This has been a sore point within the ranks for a long time, as women were always sidelined and made to work in offices. “Our women need to be at the sharp end of the navy and the sharp end of the navy is the navy in the Corvettes, the submarines, our mine hunters," Refiloe Mudimu, a vice admiral, says. And at the forefront of this revolution is Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala, the rear admiral. She is the first female admiral of the South African Navy. According to her, one of the burning issues is women being able to have the freedom to be mothers and wives but also good naval officers. "Why don't we have a baby centre or creche at the dockyard. So that if I decide I'm not taking my four months maternity leave, I'm taking two, I'm coming back cause my family and career are important, at least I know I can breastfeed, Litchfield-Tshabalala says. Tshabalala says it will still take some time to change the mindset of some male officers who still believe, the Navy is a man's domain. Other issues yet to be discussed over the next two days include, health issues especially relating to HIV/Aids.