Mwamvita Makamba is the executive head of the business development of pan-African Vodacom. According to Makamba, women working in the telecommunications industry in Africa are facing major challenges because of gender discrimination.
According to Mwamvita Makamba the problems begin as early as the school years. Girls are not being made aware of career options in fields like mining, construction, engineering or telecoms. From a young age girls believe that so-called 'feminine' careers like nursing, administration or teaching are their only options. There is also a tremendous misconception that ICT requires physical strength and women are not able to work in this field. Because a career in the telecoms is typically assumed to be a 'man's job', far fewer women work in the industry. Not to mention the severe lack of females holding positions of power. Makamba reports that after working in various roles at the Vodacom Group over a period of six years, she has hardly seen any women in boardrooms.
Makamba elaborates that the problem is not isolated to Africa. These misconceptions are seen across the globe. Because of the important role the industry plays in socioeconomic integration in communities, it is vital that gender stereotyping is discarded as soon as possible. Technology has drastically evolved, and so should the draconian belief systems.
Makamba asserts that women should believe in themselves and be resilient. Just by looking at the wider picture they will recognise that their presence alone can make a difference. She believes that women in influential positions should take a stance in business. By employing more females, it will not only improve gender equality, but also increase company profitability. Because telecommunication is becoming increasingly popular with women in Africa, and the rest of the world, a feminine input is becoming more important. Furthermore Makamba suggests that women tackle the daily problem of proving themselves by using as much energy as possibly to bring their best and most innovative ideas to the table.
Even though gender discrimination is rife in her industry, Makamba is excited about the positive changes happening. The innovation of services beyond voice and message has opened a wave of opportunity to females. Constructing towers and proving basic administration are no longer the only available career opportunities. More women are using more services on mobile phones every day, and more women are being employed by telecommunication companies than ever before.
Mwamvita Makamba believes that the gender ratio scales of the industry will eventually be tipped in the favour of women seeking equality and that equilibrium will be achieved. She also believes that this global shift will occur organically instead of being applied in compliance to hiring policies. According to Makamba it will be a matter of bringing strong women who are valuable to the company onboard, and that it will hail a new era of female thought-leaders in the industry.