Of ACCA’s membership across Africa, 40% are women; globally this rises to 48%. As a profession, we’re performing relatively highly in gender diversity. As we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, AB asked four female members across Africa to share advice for other women starting out in accountancy.

Be true to yourself

Yvonne Soglo FCCA, director, provincial budget analysis, National Treasury, South Africa

The highlight of my career so far has been making a positive impact by allocating budgets to create essential infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads. Being able to witness tangible results and improved accessibility is incredibly fulfilling. The work I am involved in directly contributes to the betterment of communities and the wellbeing of individuals.

My advice would be to encourage women to actively participate, voice their opinions and seize opportunities without compromising their authenticity. Being heard while staying true to oneself is so important. I also encourage women to embrace their unique qualities and not to feel they have to conform to societal expectations. This fosters a more inclusive environment where diverse voices can thrive and contribute meaningfully.

The one change I would make is the ability to work flexible hours. Many women take on roles as caregivers and play significant roles in their families, and more flexibility would allow them to better manage their personal and professional responsibilities. It can also enhance their productivity and job satisfaction.

Help others to grow

Peace Uwase FCCA, independent board director at MTN Rwanda, Access to Finance Rwanda and Inkomoko

Witnessing the incredible growth of individuals I have had the privilege to work with has been the most rewarding aspect of my career. Seeing their certifications, promotions and the resulting financial wellbeing for them and their families is deeply rewarding.

My advice to women starting out in accounting would be to embrace technology and upskill early. AI [artificial intelligence] is transforming the profession, so focus on data analysis, learn some coding (like Python, R or SQL), and develop your critical thinking skills. This will keep you competitive in the changing terrain.

‘Closing the gender promotion gap would benefit not just women but organisations’

If I could change one thing to benefit women in the workplace I would close the gender promotion gap. While gender parity exists at entry levels in many organisations, women’s representation diminishes as individuals progress up the ladder. I would require organisations to rigorously track gender-disaggregated promotion and other relevant data to help identify and address systemic weaknesses and ensure women have equal opportunities for leadership advancement. This would benefit not just women, but also the organisations themselves.

Take the bad with the good

Boitumelo Paya FCCA, CFO, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation

The highlight of my career so far has been the turnaround of financial performance of my current organisation, from declining margins to improvement in margins, as well as generation of cash year on year.

My advice to women starting out in the profession is that you have to take the bad with the good and look forward to better innings all the time.

If I could change one thing that would make working life better for women, it would be for employers to offer more in terms of flexible work arrangements.

Cultivate a strong network

Toseef Din FCCA, CEO, MP Shah Hospital, Kenya

My career highlight to date has been leading a team through a major strategy change, from 2021 to 2025. It significantly improved efficiency and patient-centred care at the hospital.

My advice to women new to the profession is to cultivate a strong support network, seek out mentors, and never underestimate the power of networking and building relationships.

One change to benefit women in the workplace would be to ensure equal pay, and opportunities for career advancement, regardless of gender.