Posted on March 09, 2016

Vodafone Qatar is marking International Women’s Day, which falls on 8 March, with week-long activities that bring together the female workforce of the company to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women worldwide. International Women’s Day also highlights a call to action for gender parity, the overall theme for the occasion this year.

Vodafone Qatar held two Power Hour sessions with its top female managers who shared their inspirational career stories and how their journey at Vodafone and prior to that helped to shape their leadership skills and career objectives.

Additionally, Dana Haidan, Head of CSR & Sustainability at Vodafone addressed an audience at KPMG’s International Women’s Day where she talked about how Vodafone champions diversity in the workplace and its importance to both the individual and organisation. Haidan also talked about her career journey and experience of working at the second largest telecommunications operator in the world. Haidan, then, shared thoughts on what organisations can do more on diversity to encourage further development in this space.

Anita Tomany, Head of Human Resources Operations at Vodafone Qatar, said: “We really value diversity in Vodafone. We work hard to attract and retain talented men and women and support their progression in the company so we are investing lots of energy in this space. Last year, Vodafone became one of the first organisations in the world to introduce a mandatory minimum global maternity policy. Women were offered at least 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave, as well as full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months after their return to work. Other than the United Nations, very few global organisations - and even fewer multinational corporations - have adopted minimum maternity policies of this kind. Over the last 12 months, we have invested heavily in the development of our Qatari women. Our development has included the Springboard Empowerment training and locally developed programmes to develop business and soft skills that are internationally accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management. These are just a few highlights of how committed Vodafone Qatar is to support and grow its female staff in line with its firm belief in the importance of diversity and the critical role women plan both within and outside the workplace.”

On a global level, Vodafone Foundation is pioneering a new toll-free emergency line - alongside its NGO partners, Pathfinder International and Touch Foundation and the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID). This comes in response to many hundreds of high-risk pregnant women in an area of Tanzania around the size of Belgium who are not surviving pregnancy or are losing their babies as there is no means of getting them to hospital.

The emergency line  - equivalent to 112 in Europe, 911 in the US and 999 in the UK - could help save around 225 women’s and babies’ lives a month, and will see a network of 100 taxi drivers responding to emergency calls, taking pregnant women on what is often a three-hour journey to reach the nearest hospital. Once women arrive at hospital, the emergency taxi drivers are paid using Vodafone’s mobile payment service M-Pesa. A trial of the taxi service late last year in a small area of Sengerema saved the lives of 323 women and babies.

A mobile application has also been developed for the community health workers, which lists more than 10,000 pregnant women and identifies those who are high risk cases.

The Vodafone Foundation has been supporting maternal health in Tanzania since 2010. As part of the Vodafone Foundation’s Connecting for Good programme, Vodafone partnered with the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation Tanzania (CCBRT) and various NGOs to help cure women who suffer from obstetric fistula. Thanks to the partnership and the use of M-Pesa - CCBRT uses M-Pesa to transfer funds for a patient’s travel to hospital – hundreds of women are now receiving the treatment they desperately need. The total number of surgeries increased from 268 in 2010 when M-Pesa was first introduced into the patient referral process to more than 3,000 in 2016, making it the largest fistula repair programme in the world. The maternal health programme in Tanzania is part-funded by USAID and the Swiss Re Foundation.

Vodafone Foundation Director Andrew Dunnett, said: “Our maternal health programme is another example of the transformative power of technology. Since 2010, our ‘text to treatment’ programme has benefitted more than 3,000 women living with debilitating maternal condition obstetric fistula. Now, this pioneering new service will provide a much-needed lifeline for thousands of high-risk pregnant women in Tanzania without access to emergency healthcare”.