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Women appeal for leadership in ICT sector

Women in Technology Business director, Valentine Gwerevende
Women in Technology Business director, Valentine Gwerevende. Photo by Wellington Toni, CAJ News Africa, Zimbabwe Bureau

from WELLINGTON TONI in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – COMMEMORATIONS of the World Telecommunications Day have brought to the fore the insufficient efforts channelled towards the empowerment of women, especially those in the rural areas.

The Women in Technology Business has bemoaned the trend, particularly the scant representation of females in leadership positions in the sector.

“There are a lot of women entrepreneurs in this sector but they do not get the same opportunities as their male counterparts. We feel this is one reason why most women have abandoned the industry,” Valentine Gwerevende, the founding director of the organisation, said.

Speaking in an interview with CAJ News Africa, she lamented that
slightly more than a quarter (26 percent) of technology and computer jobs were held by women.

“And, this is declining,” Gwerevende added.

She said information and communications technology (ICT) staff turnover was higher than that of males, at 17 percent.

“When these qualified women lose their jobs, they end up taking non-ICT jobs due to stigma,” the ICT executive bemoaned.

Women hold a mere 5 percent of leadership positions in Zimbabwe.

This low representation is also evident in parastatals.

Chipo Mutasa is the Managing Director of state-owned fixed phone
operator, TelOne.

Her namesake, Chipo Jaisson, holds the position of Chief Executive
Officer at NetOne, the government-owned mobile telecommunications company.

Jaisson is holding the position on an acting capacity.

Eldrette Shereni is the Corporate Communications Manager at NetOne.

Gwerevende said rural women were at the risk of being completely shut out of the ICT sector as the world moves towards the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) and post the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“How many women entrepreneurs in rural areas have lost their livelihoods and initiatives due to lack of access to ICTs?” she asked rhetorically.

“How many (women) cannot transact because they are not on the mobile money platform, and how many have no access to education because they cannot go on line?” Gwerevende probed.

“There should be ICT access to women especially in the marginalised communities,” she argued.

Zimbabwe is “technologically behind”, Gwerevende said.

“It is more difficult for strategically position themselves with tech
services and products as support systems to achieve that goal were not properly structured,” she added.

Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating World
Telecommunications Day last Sunday.

The event was marked with a call for the inclusion of the marginalised in the industry.

– CAJ News

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