“Why are almost all superheroes men?” and “Why have there been so many male presidents, but so few women?” are just some of the questions asked by child actors in a new short film by Vodafone about gender stereotypes.
Gender equality is of central importance to Vodafone. The company’s commitment to women’s empowerment is at the very core of the business. Empowering women and promoting gender equality enables communities, economies and businesses to prosper.
The ‘Raising Voices’ short film has launched across Vodafone’s markets as the company has committed to join around 20 other companies in UN Women's Unstereotype Alliance - a global coalition with the common goal to eliminate gender bias and harmful gender stereotypes in advertising.
Vodafone, a HeforShe Impact Champion, has a strong commitment to diversity and women’s empowerment, both within its own business and within the communities in which it operates. It believes that the initiatives underway to achieve greater gender parity will strengthen the company significantly over time.
Within Vodafone, the company’s long-term ambition is to become the world’s best employer for women over the next 10 years. Vodafone is committed to increasing the proportion of women in management and leadership roles, launching a series of initiatives in recent years, from 50/50 male/female graduate recruitment, to last year launching the ReConnect programme - the world’s largest recruitment programme for talented women on career breaks.
The Vodafone ReConnect programme is designed to attract talented women across 26 countries who have left the workplace for several years (in most cases to raise a family) who would like to return to work but are struggling to make the professional connections needed or refresh the skills required. Other initiatives within the organisation include the ground-breaking Global Maternity Policy, which provides an inclusive working environment for women across the company's global footprint. This provides women across 30 countries with a minimum of 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave and a return to work policy for the first six months back after maternity leave, allowing them to work for four days a week and get paid for five.
Vodafone last year committed to connecting 50 million more women across its emerging market footprint to narrow the gender connectivity gap. Products and services have been specifically designed for women through local market insights. These products and services help to enable financial inclusion, improve health and wellbeing, build skills and promote entrepreneurship.
One popular programme is Mum & Baby, a mobile service for expectant parents in South Africa. It provides free healthcare information based on the stages of pregnancy and also assists with early childhood development, until a child is five. It has been very popular, with one million users signing up to the programme in the first 10 months. Mum & Baby provides information through videos and SMS on a variety of topics, including sexual and reproductive health, pregnancy information, breast-feeding, immunisation, early childhood development, nutrition and HIV/AIDs.
Other initiatives include the Women First programme in Turkey, a service that has helped connect more than 640,000 female entrepreneurs and small business owners - many of them in rural areas - with markets and customers. The service enables women entrepreneurs to reach a wider community of potential customers by advertising and selling their products on an online marketplace, ultimately helping them to grow their businesses and improve their livelihoods.
Vodafone is also connecting more women to mobile banking. Vodafone’s M-Pesa mobile money service, which launched 10 years ago, is used by more than 11 million women who would otherwise be excluded from conventional banking services. It provides access to a wide range of transactions, micro-loans and savings and insurance products.