The socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 have adversely affected progress made in recent years in relation to gender equality: violence against women and girls has intensified; child marriage, on the decline in recent years, is also expected to increase; whilst increased care work at home is affecting women disproportionately. The pandemic has highlighted the need to act swiftly to address existing gender inequality that remains pervasive globally and get back on track to achieve the goal of gender equality. Women have played a critical role in the response to COVID-19, as frontline health providers, care providers and as managers and leaders of the response and recovery efforts. Yet, they remain under-represented in critical leadership positions and their rights and priorities are often not explicitly addressed in response and recovery measures. The crisis presents the opportunity to re-shape and rebuild systems, laws, policies and institutions to advance gender equality.
Empowering more women with mobile phones has been shown to accelerate social and economic development.
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Mobile technology enables women in many of our markets to access essential services from maternal healthcare to agricultural information for female smallholder farmers. 54% of women in emerging markets now use mobile internet, but the gender gap for internet usage is substantial with over 300 million fewer women than men accessing the internet on a mobile phone.
We develop commercial programmes that support education, skills and jobs, better health and wellbeing and safety for women, and enable economic empowerment. Through these programmes we aim to connect an additional 20 million women living in Africa and Turkey to mobile by 2025.
Our workplace diversity and inclusion focus has been on removing barriers to gender equality, as well as sustaining focus on LGBT+, setting solid foundations on race and ethnicity, and ensuring our physical and digital workplace is fully accessible.
As part of our approach, we ensure that there is gender diversity when resourcing for senior leadership roles and our leadership team is accountable for maintaining and encouraging diversity amongst their teams. Women in management targets are also embedded in our long-term incentive plans. We hired 53% women for our graduate roles, and to date have supported 564 people back into employment after a career break through our Reconnect programme, of whom 470 were women.
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