- Zimbabwe's capital of Harare employs all-women trash crews, giving women in the area a sense of purpose in the waste world. Even though the physical nature of the job is taxing—there are no automatic arms on their trucks so they lift heavy bins all day long—the women reportedly love the work, according to DW.com.
- Margaret Mugore, a six-year veteran, says the job has helped her find a path to wellness and fitness. "We used to have health problems, high blood pressure, and tiredness because of inactivity, but I am now active," she told DW.com.
- The men seem to have no complaints, and at least one local male has expressed he sees the women's engagement with the community as a positive step forward for their gender and society. "It is in the past, when men were the only ones expected to work. What about if I die, what will my wife do if she does not work?" he said to DW.com. "They are cleaning up Harare. It is 50/50. Everyone must work."
Harare's trash crews are women who started perhaps as street sweepers, then began maneuvering massive trucks and handling routes. They are women who find challenge in taking on male-dominated roles. And they are women who love serving people.
Makanyara Gandiwa, among those who started as a street sweeper and moved up, said a town clerk inspired her not long after the Beijing Platform for Action launched in 1995 to empower women. "I encourage women to take up jobs that are mostly done by men," she said to DW.com
"They make the customers happy," said Michael Chideme, acting City of Harare communications manager, to DW.com, adding the city has made a point to recruit women to pull the reins in on their waste and to reach for gender equality.
Sally Dura, the national coordinator for Women's Coalition in Zimbabwe, agrees that these nontraditional opportunities for women are a good thing, but that there needs to be more done. "…We then say to amplify it further and perfect it; we need to have conversations and structural ways so that it becomes safe for them and that they are also paid a remuneration that is fair - fair pay for the work that they do," she said to DW.com.
Even in the US, the job of a truck driver is not necessarily thought of as one for women—especially that of garbage truck driver. Still, the job aligns with work-life balance for women, which is partly why the Women in Trucking organization launched.
The organization and women behind it, like the lady garbage truck haulers and drivers in Harare, are filling an important void in a field that’s had a tough time finding and keeping good workers. In the US, women are even present in waste management high up on the management tier.