This year’s International Women’s Day theme #PressForProgress gives every woman a reason to take stock of developments and achievement in our communities.

For many, this annual event is an opportunity to celebrate achievements in gender equality while reflecting on ways to address and overcome a myriad of challenges which have hindered efforts towards gender equality.

Women empowerment is a continuous mission that cannot be achieved overnight. It is equally acknowledged that the quest for gender equality in the community where male domination remains a reality will be, if we do not accelerate the current pace, generations away.

Hence men and women, should collectively #PressForProgress to complement efforts which have been recorded so far and continue to be undertaken by states, governments, private institutions as well as individuals to ensure that women empowerment and gender equality strategic initiatives/campaigns achieve the desired goals.

Despite the slow momentum, women’s participation in decision-making organs as well as in leadership position in Tanzania have achieved some gains. Having a woman holding a Vice President position is laudable. During the 2015 General Election, some 238 women were elected into political position (against how many from the previous years?).

NMB Bank has for the third consecutive year been advocating for gender equality not only within the institution itself but also in the community at large. Linda Teggisa, the incoming Chairperson of NMB Bank Plc Women Arise, says this year’s Women’s Day theme reflects the bank’s 2020 Vision to increase the recruitment of women, empower women to participate decision-making and acquire leadership positions.

According to Linda, NMB Bank’s ‘Women Arise’ network has been working with Management to build capacity within the organisation, enhance representation of women partaking in financial services, establish an inclusive work place and celebrate their accomplishments.

“Most top positions in public and private sectors are occupied by men. We feel that through our Women Arise network, women can pierce the glass ceiling to senior executive positions and this will further the agenda in achieving equal participation in decision-making,” says Linda.

 “We have different programs which aim at empowering women. Training programs on leadership and management as well as graduate trainee have help women live their dreams,” she added. 

The chairperson went on to reveal that the bank has managed to work with Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) in tailoring a leadership program dubbed: “ATE Female Feature Program.”

“This program has been successfully implemented with positive results. Two women who were trained under the program are currently occupying leadership position within the bank. Veronica Pascal who is an acting Chief of Finance at the bank is one of them.”

According to Linda, Nenyuata Mejooli, who also attended leadership training under the program, is now in charge of all 215 NMB branches across the country. Aikansia Muro and Getrude Malya are also among women who benefited from such leadership training programs. The former is Zonal Manager of the Bank – Eastern Zone while the latter heads Private Banking and High End Customers; the department that deals with banking services for high net worth individuals.

“Based on a system of meritocracy, we have been promoting women who are highly skilled and work hard. This also acts as a motivation factor for other women to increase competency and enhance visibility when opportunities into management and leadership positions arise,” said Linda.

In expanding the reach to the market place, the bank has been also involved “career fair”, an opportunity to identify talented female students in universities and other higher learning institutions.

“We leverage career fairs to promote NMB as employer of choice in our interactions with students including women at universities. We have successfully recruited some and their progress in terms of career growth is very promising,” says the chairperson.

Under the management/ graduate trainee program, some 30 students- 15 men and 15 women, from higher learning institutions were also trained. “We expect that from next year, they will join us. Our aim is to have more women assume leadership positions. Currently we have seven women leaders as Management Team Representative” says Linda as she express her optimism that in the near future the recruits would manage to occupy senior positions.

According to Linda, other two women who attended management and leadership training under the Strathmore program offered by the University of Kenya are now occupying senior position. “Vicky Bishubo - the Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar Zonal Manager as well as Lillian Mwinuka, the Zonal Manager for Southern Regions of Mtwara, Lindi and Ruvuma, are the product of such deliberate actions taken by the bank to empower women. Also in each of our 215 branches across the country, we have selected champions to ensure that training and other information on gender issues reach all staff at that particular branch,” explains Linda.

Linda says Tanzanian women should be proud outstanding influential women such as- Gertrude Mongella, Dr Asha-Rose Migiro, Balozi Amina Salum and Prof Anna Tibaijuka, just to mention a few. “We are also working on building capacity of future women leaders who will also live a mark in our community,” she says.  This is a continuous process, “we are striving to promote and develop hard-working women to ensure they can match the number of men in boardrooms in the near future”.