Vodacom’s new initiative empowers women
VODACOM Lesotho, has developed an internal initiative termed “Mwomen” which aims to bridge the leadership gender gap within the telecommunications giant with a view to also reforming the corporate world in Lesotho.
VCL Women Empowerment programme leader, Mpho Mosotho said “Mwomen” was aimed at empowering women to make use of the mobile phone in a manner that would improve their lives.
“More women need to realise that the mobile phone is a very important tool that our male counterparts have been using more than us to fulfil their ambitions,” said Ms Mosotho.
“The mobile phone today has become useful in elevating our position in the socio-economic world and we need more women to adapt to that technology and use it to their advantage.”
She said having realised that a mobile phone is no longer limited to being a device that just makes calls and sends messages, Vodacom had committed to developing products and services as well as running promotions that will address the needs of female clients and customers.
“In our attempt to bridge this gap, we do not mean that VCL will go out into communities to hand out mobile phones but we develop concepts to understand better women’s needs as it is our mandate at VCL to assist women unleash their full potential,” she said.
According to studies conducted by the Cherie Blaire foundation, there is a 47 percent gap in sub-Saharan Africa between men and women in the utilisation of mobile phones. The studies revealed that over 300 million women did not have access to mobile phones and thus could not access potentially life-changing tools that can provide access to health services, banking, employment opportunities and educational tools. This scenario had advantaged men and given them the incentive to dominate the business realm as well as other productive sectors, compared to their female counterparts, with Lesotho being no exception to this trend.
Among the initiative’s objectives is developing products and services that specifically address women’s needs, and bridging the digital divide between men and women.
Ms Mosotho said the VCL “Mwomen” programme had attracted over 70 active members from the telecommunications giant across the country since its launch in March last year who have been working to increase their visibility in leadership roles within the industry. Dubbed, The Sisters’ Circle it aims to inspire leadership, achievement, and accountability among women within the company.
It also seeks to increase diversity and inclusion within the workplace, especially where women are concerned, promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics appreciation among young girls and inspire positive change among women through monthly events and workshops.
“The Mwomen” programme came about after the realisation that even here at VCL male dominance was prevalent within the company with only one woman in the executive team five years ago,” she said.
“Since the programme was introduced last year, four women joined the 12-member executive team making the shift towards equality more effective.”
Contrary to the cliché that women were the “weaker sex”, Ms Mosotho said, if today there were as much women as men becoming engineers and doctors, “it simply means they need more support and motivation to allow them to make their way in any industry”.
She also said the programme had embraced Vodafone’s pioneering maternity policy which will afford new mothers a four month paid maternity leave as well as a 30-hour week off for the first six months upon returning to work.