The gender gap in Africa remains high, and progress toward gender parity has not improved, which is a great missed opportunity for African societies. Africa holds so much promise, and yet persistent gender inequality is limiting its potential. It is home to some of the world's fastest-growing economies and offers new markets and growth opportunities for businesses. If the dark continent steps up its efforts to close the gender gap now, it can secure a significant growth dividend in the process. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, accelerating progress toward parity could boost African economies by 10% of their collective GDP by 2025.

Moreover, companies are facing a significant change, which requires strong strategies oriented toward sustainable development for long-term success and competitiveness. In this perspective, women play a key role. Over time, women have demonstrated the ability to successfully manage the challenges imposed by social dynamics and environmental change. In a study conducted by GLF, researchers found that in telco organizations, fewer than 30% of the 70% of technical roles are held by women.

Achieving Indicators for a Successful Parity

While the word "technology" suggests innovation and progress, employment statistics still show a gender divide, particularly when it comes to women. A report by Statista shows that women working at Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft make up between 28 and 42% of the total labor force for these tech giants.

Governments, companies, communities and individuals need to take action to make progress on any single indicator of gender inequality. The first indicator is to invest in human capital; countries commit sufficient resources to improve the skills, experience, resilience and knowledge of their citizens, so human capital plays a vital role in driving sustained economic growth and boosting productivity to achieve these improvements. If there were to be more investment in women, they could make a higher contribution to Africa’s GDP. Also, there are many dimensions to the development of human capital: focusing on educating the girl child, raising women’s skills for the future world of work and equipping women by enhancing their financial and digital literacy.

The second indicator is creating economic opportunities; women need economic opportunities if countries are to realize the full potential of their human capital. Creating pathways for African women into better-paid and more fulfilling jobs is a major priority. Improved quality of jobs in the informal sector or enabling women to leave informal work and find better employment prospects in the formal sector may result in this outcome. The company’s leaders drive change from the top with a clear strategy and targets, unlock opportunities for women-owned businesses and develop public and household infrastructure.

The third indicator is enforcing laws, policies and regulations; Africa needs to ensure that women’s rights are protected by law and enforced by authorities. Many African countries sign up for international or regional treaties but do not implement them. In order to achieve gender equality, governments must institute and enforce legal rights and put in place enabling policies and regulations.

And the last indicator is shaping attitudes; the initial step toward gender parity in Africa is to change fixed and widespread attitudes about women's role in society, an extremely challenging and complex endeavor that requires sustained support from all stakeholders. Women will continue to perform the majority of unpaid care work at home if societal views do not change, even if they are entitled to work “paid through.” These may include, for example, flexible working practices and government policies favorable to maternity and paternity leaves. The same goes for violence against women — without a change in attitudes, such an unacceptable practice will remain a blight in Africa and in countries around the world. Campaigns that raise awareness and advocacy are key components of efforts to shift societal attitudes, and these efforts need to be supported by effective monitoring and evaluation.

Female Leaders Shaping the Telecommunications Sector in Africa

Breaking the “male-only” stereotype of this sector, many global and local women stand as heroes, changing the sector through their individual approaches.

Digital and internet technology is spreading throughout Africa and can be the lever that opens many doors to women, helping them overcome the current challenges on a number of indicators of gender equality. Women in leadership positions are switching jobs at the highest rates ever seen, and ambitious young women are prepared to do the same. To make meaningful and sustainable progress toward gender equality, companies must go beyond table stakes.

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