As the world gears up for another International Women’s Day to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women; challenges persist as gains in certain quarters have been eroded.
This year’s theme, “Break the Bias’’ is apt given that women constitute a key percentage of the global population. Today, March 8 being the commemorative day, is in recognition and celebration of the women and girls who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation and response, and to honour their leadership and contribution towards a sustainable future.
One of Ghana’s leading telecommunication giants, Vodafone, has shown leadership and drive for gender equality over the years. It is therefore not surprising that Vodafone Ghana was recognised as the Gender-Oriented Organisation of the Year (Instinct Woman Awards). Globally, the Vodafone brand has been recognized by the Bloomberg Gender Equity Index for its leadership and commitment to driving gender equality.
Ahead of the celebration, Vodafone started a serialised social media campaign on the “Break the Bias” theme, where the telco giant leveraged creative artwork to drive awareness of the various gender biases and drive the need to empower women.
Similar to previous years, Vodafone Ghana extends the celebration throughout the week with a number of remarkable initiatives designed to empower women and address gender challenges. Besides the internal sessions with all females, Vodafone’s female leaders dedicate their time to inspiring various groups of women and young girls in various, seminars and workshops as well as training programmes.
During a quick conversation with Vodafone Ghana’s HR Director, Hannah Ashiokai Akrong, she remarked that gender equality was important because women make up almost half of Ghana’s population.
She further noted that research continues to prove that gender equality is critical in creating a sustainable future and driving the economic growth and development of any economy.
Embracing women at the workplace and making an intentional effort to remove barriers can be good for business too. According to McKinsey, a total of US $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 by the advancement of women’s equality in the world.
In Vodafone’s “Inclusion for All” pillar, which is part of its “purpose-driven” plan, the company is very interested in gender. “At Vodafone, we deliberately promote gender equality at every level of the organization,” Ms. Akrong noted.
Females occupy five out of the nine key senior management positions within the business. “We proactively empower and mentor females for leadership roles and also give opportunities to ladies who are studying STEM related programmes,” the Human Resources Director added.
The specific Initiatives include:
STEM Participation – FESSP
The unique programme embraces young female engineering students from various universities into Vodafone. Every year, the company gives the opportunity to promising young female students to realize their dream of becoming leaders of change in their chosen STEM careers. Presently over 40 young women under the initiative are working in various roles within the business. Over 20 of previous beneficiaries are gainfully employed in various industries across the globe.
Women Mentoring Group
There exist internal female groups that continue to provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modelling for younger women. These groups spanning Women in Vodafone, Women in Tech and Women in Finance are also championing initiatives out there that are driving gender equality.
During recruitment, Vodafone ensures that candidates’ skills and capabilities are priority. Line managers are encouraged to give females the chance so long as they are capable. Departments that are very male dominated also have targets to recruit females when they do get vacancies.
Through the ‘Reconnect’ programme, Vodafone continues to attract talented women who have left the workplace for several years and would like to return to work on a full-time or flexible basis. Three ladies are part of staff via the programme with an eye on increasing enrollment.
“Our maternity policy and parental leave policy have affirmed our commitment to diversity and inclusion and position us as an employer of choice. Vodafone is arguably the first organisation to introduce four months paid leave for employees in Ghana,” Madam Akrong disclosed.
Empowers girls in STEM across second-cycle schools (15 – 18) in the country with new trends in technology, new thinking, innovation and creativity. Trains participants in digital skills including coding, online education, mentoring and entrepreneurship.
Code like a Girl
Provides basic knowledge of computer languages and development programmes, including HTML, CSS, GitHub and Bootstrap, enabling students to develop a website by the end of the one-week course.
Health – Maternal Health (Ultra-Sound Scan for 20,000 women)
Vodafone brought relief to over 20,000 distressed pregnant women through a free community ultrasound scan project designed to provide timely maternal health care solutions to deprived communities across the country.
Gender Violence – Ark Transit Shelter
Vodafone completed and handed-over a transit shelter to Ark Foundation, a non-governmental organization, to support and accommodate domestic violence victims in Ghana. The transit shelter project was funded by Vodafone employees and supported by the Foundation.
Digital and Financial Skills for 1,500 Women
Vodafone partnered the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to empower 1,500 women in the informal sector with digital and financial skills in the Upper East region. The initiative trained women, mostly found in the Agric-processing sector, in savings, food security, business improvement; whilst equipping them with financial services through Vodafone’s mobile money platform. The project is also expected to bring indirect benefit to 10,000 households in the region.
As a global brand, Vodafone Ghana embodies inclusion in the selection and composition of its executive management and the stellar initiatives it has trumpeted over the years to entrench its position as a company remembered for being particular about inclusion.