On a new track

The World

This is the sound of women’s work in this village: sweeping the dirt yard. When I ask if her two young sons help, she shoots me a look. Until recently, she lived a conventional life, but she recently graduated from a program that will make her part of the first group of black women in South Africa to be certified as animal trackers. We’re now on a game viewing drive, where foreign tourists pay top dollar to get a look at lions, tigers and giraffes. The woman and another female tracker are about to put into work some of their new skills. The woman knows this reserve well as she trained here for two years alongside a dozen male counterparts. Unemployment runs a staggering 80% in her village so she’s hoping she’ll land a relatively well paying job in a game lodge. The idea of women trackers may not seem radical to Westerners, but even the khaki pants she wears a break from tradition. As a married women she’s supposed to only weak skirts. Fortunately, her miner husband was supportive of her training, but that’s not often the case. This official with the program says many families had to go through support training for their female trackers. The female tracker says this will make her stronger as a woman and a person.

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