Empowering women in the telecom sector
Telecommunications is a sector dominated by men
The future will bring improvements. This is the message that we get from women in the telecoms sector when talking about female empowerment in the region. However, addressing gender imbalance in telecoms is still at an early stage, with government and industry only just starting to show commitment to including half of the global population in the sector.
UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, highlighted the need for greater involvement of women at higher levels in the telecoms sector: "The more women are missing as producers and leaders within a critical sector in shaping society, shaping innovation and shaping avenues for income generation, the more they are absent from directing their own futures, the more they are sidelined in critical debates and progress, and the less they can counter negative stereotypes and practices online. Women cannot be left behind or out of the corridors of power," said the organisation.
Isabelle Mauro, head of Middle East and Africa at GSMA, supports the statement from UN Women and added: "We need to make women in mobile and ICT the norm rather than the exception and also encourage those that are on the path not to abandon it."
In particular, the telecommunications sector is dominated by men, with only 4.1% of firms with a female top manager in MENA and 15.8% firms, in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Bank. Mauro reinforces the idea that the sector is "still heavily" cornered by males, while women tend to be in positions that are either at the bottom end of management, working in certain functions or in administrative roles. She also provides a positive side and comments that more women are being employed in the public policy and legal side of telecoms, which can only be a positive step forward for our industry as a whole, she said.
Hala Badri, executive vice president, Brand and Communications at du, believes that there are still improvements to be made to give women the chance to participate in the sector.
"Women have the skills, the education and the training, but they also need the chance to work on this sector," she said.
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