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MTN drives growth of women in ICT sector

The future is increasingly digital, yet women are under-represented in this high-growth sector of the economy.

South Africa’s Communications Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, recently spoke about the fact that women’s participation in the local information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is “woefully low”.

UN reports show participation at less than 30% in the sector globally, but the situation in South Africa is far worse. A major concern is that young women are not receiving the support or encouragement needed to enter the sector - the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report states that only 13% of SA graduates in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields are women.

The MTN Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards – now in its third year – aims make a real difference by helping close gender gaps and setting more women on course to lasting and exciting ICT careers.

 “At MTN, we believe that gender diversity is crucial to growth in the ICT sector, and we are committed to help drive change. Young women, and those already in the profession, need strong mentors to inspire them, and importantly also to add their unique perspectives to the development of products. Without this perspective, future design and innovation will simply not be able to talk to the broader market out there, of which women are a key component,” says Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive for Corporate Affairs at MTN South Africa.

The different areas of the market being rewarded include the: Leadership Recognition Award, which recognises senior female executives in the ICT sector whose proven depth of experience in leading change, influencing business outcomes and leading teams has impacted positively on the organisations they lead.

The CEO’s Award, meanwhile, recognises an MTN employee who has made a difference within the organisation with the use of ICT and Technology.

Growing and developing entrepreneurs and new businesses is crucial, and the SME Recognition Award recognises wholly-owned, women-run enterprises that are viable businesses making inroads in the ICT sector. Nominations for this award are also being extended to internal MTN employees who drive small start-ups using ICT to enable their businesses.

The Innovator Recognition Award, meanwhile, recognises women who have introduced new methods, ideas, or products that are contributing in one way or the other to the delivery of a bold, new, digital world.

The need to get young women excited and studying towards careers in the sector is an imperative, says O’Sullivan. In this regard, the Graduate Award (Tertiary) recognises a top ICT graduate from a tertiary institution who finished top of her class. The award is open to young women who graduated in the immediate year preceding the awards ceremony.

 “We believe that an even greater impact can be made if we work together towards unlocking the potential of women professionals in the sector. Initiatives like the MTN Women in ICT - Partnership for Change Awards is one way that we can contribute to this,” concludes O’Sullivan.

Other awards include:

A Community Builder Recognition Award: recognises a woman who has made a considerable difference in her community through ICT, or use of an ICT tool to make a difference in the community.

Lifetime Achiever Recognition Award (Women Pioneer): recognises a woman who has longstanding success in the ICT industry, has demonstrated a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, and has continually stayed ahead of the curve.

Excellence in ICT Journalism Award: this category seeks to recognise a journalist who has contributed immensely to creating a better understanding of the ICT industry through her reporting.

Public’s Choice Award: this gives the public an opportunity to vote for the woman they wish to recognise using this awards platform.

Members of the industry, businesses and other organisations outside of the industry, mentors, teachers, lecturers and individuals are encouraged to go to https://www.mtn.co.za/womeninict to nominate phenomenal women in ICT before 12 August 2018, when nominations close.

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