Jazz, Pakistan’s leading digital operator and a part of VEON Group, has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with GSMA, a global organization that unifies and represents the mobile ecosystem, to extend its commitment to the GSMA Connected Women Initiative to increase its female mobile broadband users and maximize the business capacity of female micro-entrepreneurs.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the GSMA Connected Women Initiative’s primary objective is to increase women empowerment by facilitating their access to financial independence by cultivating and supporting micro-entrepreneurship avenues for them. Under this LOI, GSMA will provide advisory support to Jazz to research how female micro-entrepreneurs use smartphones for their businesses; identify the barriers hindering their growth; and devise new digital and business strategies to address these issues in order to scale their profitability.
Jazz’s collaboration with GSMA is aimed at informing this research, increasing smartphone ownership and access to the internet among female micro-entrepreneurs, and providing regular updates and feedback on their initiatives.
To increase 4G penetration and smartphone ownership under its ‘4G for All’ vision, Jazz was previously recognized by GSMA for successfully rolling out the Jazz Digit 4G smart features phones globally. The digital operator also offers Shariah-compliant easy installment payment plans on these 4G-enabled handsets to encourage everyone to become part of the digital ecosystem.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Aamir Ibrahim, Jazz CEO, highlighted, “Women empowerment is at the heart of everything we do at Jazz so we are proud to extend this collaboration with GSMA. Over the years, we have undertaken a number of initiatives, to bridge the digital gender equality gap including our ongoing nationwide Rural Data Education Campaign to digitally empower rural populations including men and women.”
Jazz has collaborated with the UNDP and UN Women to conduct various countrywide digital and financial literacy training programs to instill technical and entrepreneurial skillsets in women, the enabling them to enhance their lives and livelihoods.
In partnership with LUMS, Jazz also introduced an executive leadership training program for its managerial position female employees, which is also open on merit for senior female professionals outside the company.
Jazz’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) vertical is founded on a robust policy structure that caters to women’s unique challenges in the workplace, and provides a gender-balanced work environment that offers comfortable professional space for women from all walks of life. The company has different female-specific programs which offer six months of paid maternity leave, six-month flexible return support for new mothers, and a program for women returning to corporate positions after a career break. It also issues Pink Cards which offer a 50% discount on women-related medical tests for Jazz employees and their families.
These initiatives attest to the company’s mission to create a Digital Pakistan, and are in line with this year’s International Women’s Day theme called DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality, which highlights the urgent interventions necessary to cover the gender disparity in the workplace in the fields of technology, science, engineering, and mathematics.
The extension of the GSMA Connected Women Initiative delivers on 4 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG 5 – Gender Equality; 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; 10 – Reduced Inequalities, and 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities.