March 2021 / News

Why Women’s Empowerment is a Priority for Hart

Skilled work opportunities for women represent more than just a salary, they are crucial contributors to social mobility, equality, empowerment and sustainable societies. We spoke to women in different roles with Hart in both Somalia and Afghanistan on working in security.

SOMALIA

Sally Cordova womens empowerment Hart Somalia

Sally Cordova, Office Coordinator, Hart Nationwide, Mogadishu

What do you enjoy about your role?

Working in an international community and also working in a conflict-affected country. I’m gaining more knowledge and experience on a daily basis.

Do you face any challenges in your role because of gender?

Like all jobs there are challenges, but no challenge is because of my gender. Working with security personnel is perhaps different to other people’s day jobs; I’m one of two women working on our team. There are new workflows I need to get accustomed to, but I also have lots to offer such as knowledge that the wider company can benefit from. My family are proud of me for taking this job, despite the setting, and are very supportive.

What advice would you have for other women following in your career footsteps?

My advice isn’t just to women, but to everyone. I believe that we need to start closing the gap earlier, yes working towards gender equality in the workplace, both in terms of access to jobs and equal pay is important, but it needs to happen before that – during the education phase. The youth need to be taught that “progress for women and girls is progress for all”. That way the next generation will make the change.

Alice Nandudu womens empowerment security guard Hart somalia

Alice Grace Nandudu, Security Guard, Hart Nationwide, Mogadishu

How do you feel about your job?

I feel privileged to be working as the first female security guard in an all-male team. I have previous security experience, and I believe I bring range to my new position.

Are there any unique skills that you believe women bring to your role?

Yes, I think that there is a huge benefit to being a female security guard in a male dominated team, where soft skills are often overlooked. Being welcoming to clients, being able to do searches on women and the ability to de-escalate a situation are all keys to success.

What advice would you have for other women following in your career footsteps?

Apply for roles in male industries. For more women to be accepted in these roles the first step is putting yourself forward for them.

AFGHANISTAN

Hart spoke to six women who are part of our team in Afghanistan. These interviews showed how participation in the workforce is neither easy nor commonplace for women, and yet the research is clear: female participation in labour drives economic growth and reduces poverty levels. Over 10% of Hart’s workforce in Afghanistan is female and we continue to commit to women’s empowerment.

Security Roles for Women Women's Empowerment Hart Afghanistan
Describe your typical day

Farzana: I leave my home very early; I have a newborn baby and it is difficult to say goodbye. When I come to the office, I stay focused and do my job good because it is an important position.
Malalai: I leave home very early when, in winter, it is still dark. I then change vehicles three times before reaching camp and start my day by registering visitors and, if necessary, searching female visitors. I must ask them politely to be searched, and, if they refuse, I apply the SOPs by reporting it to my Supervisor. After work, I return home to take care of my mother and brother, cooking food and washing dishes.

What interests you most about your role ?

Tamana: Meeting new people every day and greeting them with a smile.
Sadaf: My position gives me more knowledge and experience of working in a security role, while working in a safe environment in Kabul.

What are the most challenging aspects of your role?

Nabia: To maintain the high standard set by the company and to maintain the SOPs for reception. The threat from POI’s (Persons of Interest) remains a challenge and to solve their problems on the spot.
Razma: To deal with female visitors who refused to be searched.

Hart recently enrolled you in an English Language course. What effect has this had?

Sadaf: I am very grateful for Hart in giving us the opportunity to learn English, and I hope we can do a more advanced course.
Razma: I enjoyed the course and I feel more confident in speaking English.

Hart Afghanistan women's empowerment women in security
What does your family think about your choice of vocation?

Tamana: My family does not approve of me working in the Security sector because of the high-risk factor in Security and travelling far in the city to get to the job, but I want to support my family financially, so I am committed to do my job.
Razma: My family approves of me working and advised me to take responsibility in the job and to put in as much effort to make it as successful as possible.

The security industry is male-dominated. What has your experience been of the sector as a woman?

Malalai: Due to the inequality of gender, the top positions are given to male staff, so female promotion is very limited in the security industry. It may be a reason why not many women are interested in the security field.
Razma: I am very proud and honoured to work in the security field, and I am very comfortable working with staff.
Sadaf: I think the industry is male-dominated in Afghanistan because people think that security jobs are not made for women, so I feel very proud working in the security field. I gain a lot of knowledge and experience.

What advice would you give to other women looking to pursue a career in the security industry?

Farzana: It is dangerous, but a good job to have in Afghanistan, and I will encourage ladies to pursue a career in security.
Malalai: There is a huge need for female security personnel in Afghanistan so I will encourage them to consider positions in security.
Sadaf: We need more women in security in Afghanistan, so I will advise them to consider a career in security.