WORLDWIDE, most countries yearn to see an atmosphere where the rights of women and men are exercised equally.
Many have stipulated regulations intended to fight discrimination and programmes granting women access to health, education and economic rights such as land ownership.
However, the fact remains that some still have few opportunities for women than men to tap socioeconomic avenues to develop.
With the lower participation of women therefore being registered in their labor force especially in their several organisations and companies, Tanzania being inclusive.
On the other side of the coin, experts argue that if women are represented fairly and equally in the labour force, they are likely to perform better. Leading to boost the country’s profits, and in turn satisfaction levels from fair representation increase any employee’s engagement.
It is in this background recently the NMB bank, established a network to ensure that women are granted equal opportunities to fully participate and benefit the country’s development arena or any organisation.
Dubbed ‘Arise Women’ the network aims at empowering women as well as fostering gender equality, and looks at critical issues that impacts and affects women in organisations.
In an interview with the Chairperson of the Women Arise Network, Ms Linda Tigisa, she hinted that the network founded in 2016 supports the top management of the organisations to ensure equality, and balance between men and women at the workforce.
In the past, NMB had no specific group to look at issues, which specifically impact and affect women in organisation, and that made women within the organisation to come up with the idea to start the network to address the matter.
“The idea was raised based on the fact that in many organisations within Tanzania and globally, we do see associations within corporate organisation basically not addressing women’s issues. So this was seen also as a gap at NMB, and it was important for us to address it by establishing the network, which could equally look into the critical issues that impact on women at workplace here at NMB,” she said.
She said that at the financial institutions, a greater number of women are always found at the lower level employed within the sector, and the number diminishes as one ascends the hierarchy.
“It was important for us to look at why that is the case, why women do not always feel empowered to apply for top positions?
What are the challenges they face within the organisation that prevent them from having greater ambitions to develop within their careers and to achieve higher positions,” she queried.
According to Ms Tigisa, the network engages women in capacity building programmes, where they become able to be equipped with right soft skills to operate within their working environment effectively.
Speaking during a panel discussion convened by the network to discuss matter pertaining to women’s issues within the workplace, it coincided with the annual World Women's Day commemorations, where a lot was discussed.
Ms Tigisa said that the Arise Women Network have recorded greatest achievements by engaging women in various organization such as the Association of Tanzania employees, where women employees at the NMB are trained on capacity building.
“One of our pillars under which the network operate is capacity building for women staff at NMB, and we have partnered with various organization such as ATE to have the capacity building training programme for women, and NMB has been participating and sending women staff each year to be equipped with the right soft skills to enable them operate effectively at workplace,” she said.
Commenting on the International Women’s Day held late last week, Ms Tigisa urged the public including stakeholders to create a sustainable culture that supports to achieve more gender balanced society both at family level and in workplaces.
Ms Tigisa said at the discussion that this year’s theme for the International Women’s Day “BalanceforBetter” should be accustomed to daily undertakings for the society to attain meaningful achievements.
She said that this can be achieved by raising awareness against gender biasses at the workplaces. In his opening remarks, NMB’s Acting Head of Human Resource Emmanuel Akonaay, challenged the gathering to perceive gender equality beyond the numbers.
In his views, he argued that gender balanced society cannot only be achieved in terms of numbers, but called for several capacity building for women based on merit and competence to the individuals, who have leadership qualities.
“It needs a creation of a level playing field where everyone would feel safe and secured,” he said, further pointing out an example of a female interviewee facing a male dominated panel.
For her part, Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT), director of operations responsible for programmes, Irene Mlola, took a different view of looking at the theme “#BalanceforBetter”. From her organisation’s perspective, financial inclusion is key to a better balanced society.
“We believe that through financial inclusion, people would be able to balance their lives and eventually live a better life,” she noted. However, she was quick to comment that despite diversities, a stubborn gap still exists between men and women in terms of accessing financial services.
“Today, there are some evidences that suggests and proves that by bringing more women in the position where men are, the whole world economy in terms of GDP would increase,” she argued.
Supporting Irene’s observations, NMB’s Strategy & Investor relations Specialist, Caroline Yambesi said that creating a sustainable culture that supports inclusive work balance should be the main focus.
“In this millennial environment companies should move away from the gross misconception that hiring more men is equal to more productivity.
She further advised people to not only to look at HR ratio at a company level, but also go deeper and look at what women bring to the table.
Trademark East Africa country director, John Ulanga, voiced his support for the other panelists observations, saying on one hand, the whole society should be happy with the progress that has been achieved so far.
“On the other hand, however, it needs sporadic efforts, but we are not yet quite there in terms of having a comprehensive look on how we are performing in terms of creating equitable and not equal environment,” added Ulanga.
Speaking at the gathering, the panelists agreed in principle that as advocates and champions of change, men have been recognized as key players in accelerating women’s equality.
They also urged that there is a need for endless effort to cultivate more progressive mindsets and inclusive behaviors, to do away with stereotypes that have been challenged for decades to allow for a more diverse representation of women in leadership positions at workplaces.