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Today I had the pleasure of spending part of my morning with female employees of the MyCiTi bus service to learn more about the work they do on a day-to-day basis.

To mark Transport Month, I visited the Tollgate Depot in Woodstock where I met female MyCiTi bus drivers, mechanics, regulators and despatchers.

The success of the MyCiTi service over the years is a result of the dedication of these women and their colleagues who ensure that thousands of commuters have safe and reliable journeys on our roads on a daily basis.

Today we celebrate these women who are excelling in the transport industry, a sector traditionally dominated by men.

Currently, MyCiTi has 52 female bus drivers working on its routes across the city, 12 female dispatch operators at its depots as well as two female technicians.

A lot of work is being done to encourage women to take up careers in the so-called ‘male-dominated’ industry.

The current intake ratio of one of the MyCiTi bus operating companies, Table Bay Rapid Transit (TBRT), for its learnership programme is 9 to 1, meaning they recruit 9 female drivers for every 1 male driver enrolled.

This morning I sat down with Emmarentia Ruiters (26) who is a MyCiTi bus driver based in Atlantis. Emmarentia was one of the first women who enrolled for the learnership programme in 2015.

She previously worked as a front-end controller at a retail company in Atlantis. The 26-year-old switched to the transport industry in search of a new challenge and it has always been her desire to be able to operate a heavy vehicle.

I also met Amanda Mtshixa who came to work into the transport industry via a learnership. She was previously a call centre agent.

After being accepted into the programme, Amanda worked hard and proved herself as a competent bus driver before she was recently promoted to a regulator who manages operations at the MyCiTi bus stations and oversees various route operations.

The 27-year-old has further ambitions and sees herself in a management position over the coming years. This is precisely the kind of ambition that we want to inspire by giving the women the opportunity to work in male-dominated industries.

Another staff member, Alvina Abrahams, has had a long journey as a bus driver before relocating to another City a few years ago. The 38-year-old returned to Cape Town where she reapplied for her old job as a bus driver 7 years ago.

She was promoted to the position of administration clerk and yard despatcher at the TBRT MyCiTi Atlantis Depot five years ago.

These women are a true inspiration and testament to the fact that women can excel in jobs previously dominated by men.

This is also exemplified by the City of Cape Town’s all-female road repair team which fixes potholes and does other roadworks across the metro. There are eight of these teams based in various depots including Bellville, Kraaifontein, Ottery, and Plumstead.

This group forms part of the City’s award-winning Women at Work Programme that aims to empower women in the workplace by providing them with skills for work that is generally associated with men.

I have had engagements with women at the City taking up positions previously only occupied by men, while other women are doing their apprenticeships as motor mechanics and fixing our roads.

But we still have a long way to go. Only 37,2% of 27 000 employees at the City are women and few serve in management positions.

As an opportunity City, we are working hard towards developing and supporting programmes that will provide longer-term employment in an effort to promote economic inclusion, which is in line with the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan.

Learnership programmes in particular have empowered many women, some of whom have obtained permanent employment directly with the City through these opportunities.

This is part of the City’s commitment in the ODTP to take Cape Town the next level and build a globally competitive city where all our residents, both men and women, are empowered to grow the economy.

I want to salute all the brave women who have taken steps to enter sectors said to be for men only and who are now breaking barriers for young girls who have similar ambitions to have the same opportunities in the future.

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