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On 8 March, we are celebrating International Women's Day, and the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Vodacom and Vodafone are renewing their commitment to gender equality by launching a powerful campaign under the banner #ConnectedSheCan.
ReConnect to the workplace
Many women struggle to return to work after a career break - often after having children. This not only has implications for the women themselves, and their families, but also for the corporate world - companies are missing out on a huge pool of talent. Vodacom and Vodafone realised they could do more to help ease this transition. That's where ReConnect comes in. The campaign targets a broad spectrum of women who face a range of challenges around work. For many other women, a lack of access to technology means they have fewer opportunities. #ConnectedSheCan shows what women are capable of when these boundaries are removed.
The programme includes training, coaching and induction programmes to refresh and enhance professional skills to help returners prepare for re-entry to the workplace and progress their careers. It also provides joiners with flexible working options to better strike that all-important balance between home and work life.
ReConnect also aims to provide 50-million women in developing countries with phones and access to technology, which will help them start businesses, access information to further their careers and access healthcare.
Women mentoring women
To further Vodacom's goal of providing an equal workplace for women, the Women’s Network Forum mentorship programme promotes female leadership and career advancement. Female executives at Vodacom take on the role of mentors to high-potential women in junior management roles. In addition, the mentees attend a programme for leaders at Wits Business School.
The forum serves as an important platform to engage with women on advancing the gender equality plan within the company, and it keeps Vodacom accountable on its targets for an equitable workplace. Various factors have an impact on gender diversity, and the Women’s Network Forum provides an open and transparent space for conversations about achieving Vodacom's goals, and how barriers to gender equality can be broken down.
Currently, 43% of Vodacom’s workforce is female. In the last year, promotions of female employees rose by 9%, while 17% of the executive workforce is female. Vodacom’s working policies also allow women more flexibility around maternity leave and returning to work.
Vodacom also supports the HeForShe initiative, a United Nations solidarity movement which encourages all people (men and boys, girls and women) across the world to speak up and act against the inequalities faced by women and girls. It strengthens the support for women’s empowerment as a human right by enlisting men and encouraging them to put themselves forward as advocates for gender equality.