Mukudzei Chingwere Midlands Correspondent
THE Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) last Friday joined the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day by acknowledging the exploits of Flight-Lieutenant Angelina Bosha, who became the first female officer to complete a fighter jet training course.
The AFZ has made tremendous strides in championing the presence of women in the force to the extent that during this year’s graduation ceremony in Gweru, females outnumbered their male counterparts.
After completing her studies at the end of last year in China, the 29-year-old Flt-Lt Bosha became the first and only female fighter aircraft pilot in the history of AFZ.
During the course, she was the only female student of the 14 pilots from across the globe who undertook the one-year course.
The course is so revered that the AFZ cannot divulge the number of fighter pilots who have undertaken the training.
In outlining the importance of her achievement deputy commander of Josiah Tungamirai Airforce Base, Group Captain Ezweni Masuku lauded Flt-Lt Bosha.
“Flt-Lt Bosha is the first female fighter jet pilot of the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
“Before Flt-Lt Bosha we have never had a female pilot going to the fighter jets.
“What has made her unique is that she has met the grade that is required of a fighter pilot.
“She is not going there because of affirmative action but because she meets the required criteria for a fighter jet pilot.
“As an organisation we do have programmes of addressing gender imbalances but we have also made it very clear that being a professional organisation as we are, we will not compromise the standards to further the issues of gender imbalances.
“We are happy that on this day we are celebrating Women’s Day, Flt-Lt Bosha has made it into a career not that many, not only in the AFZ but the world at large, fail to make it.
“The course has its own physiological challenges; I must say she is unique, she has made it and we will not look at her as a woman but we will look at her as a fighter pilot,” said Group Capt Masuku.
In an interview, Flt-Lt Bosha implored all women not to expect preferential treatment but to work hard to be successful in life.
“I just told myself that I can do it. The support I have been receiving from my superiors back home has been valuable and I just told myself that ‘yes I can,’ even if I was the only female.
“My instructor here in Zimbabwe encouraged me to take up the course. He told me that I can do it and I just worked very hard to achieve it.
“The most important thing to ladies out there is that they should not expect special treatment because there are such fields like ours where there is no separation when it comes to training.
“The training is standard for both male and females so there is no special treatment,” she said.