September 2023 / Insight | News

Empowering Women and Breaking Barriers: Hart Nationwide’s Commitment to Gender Equality in East Africa

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East Africa, known for its rich cultural diversity and historical significance, has unfortunately been synonymous with gender inequality for far too long. In a region marked by its patriarchal traditions, gender equality remains a distant goal. According to the Gender Equality Index, Somali women rank fourth lowest in the world in gender parity. Even in 2019, a report by the International Labour Organisation revealed that women in Somalia made up a mere 23.1% of the country’s workforce, with little hope of substantial change in the near future.  

Amidst this challenging backdrop, it is truly remarkable that Hart Nationwide, a company operating in a predominantly male-dominated industry like security, has managed to significantly increase the representation of women in its workforce. Having operated in the region for over two decades, Hart’s experience in successfully managing all aspects of safety and security – from guarding infrastructure and diplomatic missions to supporting humanitarian partners working in high-risk areas and protecting clients against any active conflicts that arise – has necessitated a deep understanding of the workings of the region.

In a society marked by a significant gender divide, the inclusion of women in roles traditionally reserved for men becomes imperative. Ironically, this separation means that women security personnel need to duplicate those functions performed by their male counterparts, thus helping to break down gender barriers in the workplace.     

One of Hart’s Security Managers believes hiring women in security positions has profound benefits that extend beyond breaking gender stereotypes. Drawing on his 30 years of experience in military training and international security management operations, he has come to view the inclusion of women as being key to strengthening his teams. As he puts it, “Over the years, what I have seen is that the best teams are made up of individuals with complementary talents. When everyone utilises each other’s strengths, the team can function as a unit and can adapt to any challenge quickly and effectively.”   

During a recent visit to a field training session, he observed that two out of the four best marksmen on the firing range were women. Furthermore, in the context of five ongoing projects in Somalia, and employing a guard force of some significant size, it has recently emerged that four out of these five locations now have a woman serving as shift supervisor.    

The empowerment of women has long been a core principle for Hart Nationwide and its parent company, The Chelsea Group. For the women employed within the group as well as for their families and their communities, the positive impacts cannot be overstated. It sums up quite simply the way gender dynamics are in the workplace at Hart. Women and men are on equal footing both in terms of the work they do and their ability to do it.

In a region where gender equality has often been elusive, Hart Nationwide stands as a beacon of progress, leading the way in dismantling barriers and promoting a future where women in East Africa can thrive and make meaningful contributions to the security sector.