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Rising woman: How an idea became a grand initiative

Friday April 02 2021
Rising pic

By Lilian Ndilwa

Dar es Salaam. The Rising Woman Initiative project was established by Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) on February 1, 2021.

It is a project that focuses on identifying and profiling women leaders, with emphasis on women in managerial-cum-leadership positions.

The initiative dates back to November 2020 when it was just a project idea mooted by the MCL marketing team.

“The idea of executing the Rising Woman initiative developed after we were not able to conduct our annual health camp last year due to the viral Covid-19 pandemic. We, therefore, wanted to see how it would be received by our ‘audience’ because this initiative originated from our sister company in Uganda,” says Naomi Kaale, a commercial analyst in the MCL Marketing Department. According to her, the Rising Woman Initiative has blended in with The Citizen daily content through a series of published profiles of women in leadership positions in various corporate areas.

“The initiative, including publication of profile features of female leaders, officially started on February 1, 2021. But, implementation of the initiative - which includes generation of ideas, proposals writing and internal awareness - started in November last year,” says Ms Kaale.

The initiative has so far pushed for a positive feedback from all corners and there has been an increase in sales while people were calling to be featured in these profiles.

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The initiative - which was focused on the corporate sector - has opened a chapter where not only women but also men can relate and learn from.

According to Kenneth Mugabe, Head of Commercial Department at MCL, the initiative was designed to uplift the organisation’s mileage on the its products as well as be part of the movement to empower women. “We wanted women to access the same opportunities as men; we targeted being part of the women empowerment agenda,” Mgabe says.

“We decided on using our readers to deliver this initiative so as to inspire women and men so as to put an end to gender inequality.” Mr Mugabe further says.

Later this year, MCL will follow up on the initiative, and also look at different areas in multiple sectors that relate to women.

“The coverage will be based on all things that concern a woman: from the things that affect her to the corners that appraise her capabilities and presence,” he explains.

“Since the beginning of publishing the Rising Woman series, some 59 published features have detailed leaders’ experiences of working with women in their sectors - and why it is important to have women in top leaderships. All profiles had one common thing that partly described people in the features they were all in managerial positions in society, individual organizations as well as corporates, The Citizen had provided in-depth understanding while revealing the background and lives of women leaders in different sectors.

As the series came to a pause on March 31, 2021, some of the leaders who participated in the series from February to March have talked differently of the initiative, as well as women empowerment.

Miranda Naiman is the Founder and Managing Partner of ‘Empower,’ a human capital consultancy firm. She was among the women (and men) who were featured in the Rising Woman series - and she says it was a joy to share her story and experience “alongside so many other Tanzanian women that I know and admire. The initiative has been crucial in amplifying the message that, with passion and dedication, women can achieve anything - and can be present in all rooms where decisions are made,” she states.

Ms Naiman adds that “both men and women are reminded that women can be decision makers and equal partners in running organizations, and contributing to our national economy.”

Atiya Sumar, Head of Programs and Partnership at the British Council in Tanzania who was also featured in the series, says The Rising Woman initiative has huge potential to evolve into something impactful and long-lasting. “I was honoured and delighted to be featured with so many trailblazing women, and could share my journey with such a wide audience. Many women and girls reached out to me after the interview was published, saying how much my story resonated with theirs - and that reading about my struggle has enthused me to keep on challenging traditional practices which limit women’s potential and their contribution to society.” Ms Sumar explains.

Hisham Hendi, currently serving as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Vodacom-Tanzania, was one of the male leaders who stressed the importance of women empowerment in society - as was being done In the Rising Woman series.

“Empowerment, for me, is a nice word. But, you really need to enable women, meaning that you have to find out what strength or what ambition can enable them. You need to ensure that women also have the right to make mistakes and learn from that. They have the right to experience different areas in business - and they also have the right to be ambitious to the highest levels across the organization, whether locally or globally,” he said.

Naomi John, Learning and Development Manager at Coca Cola Kwanza whose profile was also published in The Rising Woman series, said the Initiative - along with the daily publications of different leaders’ views - was a learning platform for many.

“After my story was published, I was keen to watch other women’s interviews and profile features just to explore the different experiences on how others are doing great in their positions,” she explains.

Sanjay Rughani, the Standard Charted Bank Tanzania Ltd CEO who also chairs the CEO Roundtable, was one of the participants in the Rising Woman series. Addresses women empowerment, he said “it’s important for women to be groomed to be leaders from day one of joining a company. It’s important for women to understand their organization, its purpose; understand their roles - and they also have to put passion into whatever they do,” he says.