Women’s issues in ICT in Mongolia

International Telecommunication Union, October 2001

Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on Equal Access of Women in ICT
22-26 October 2001, Seoul, R.O.Korea
Ms. Batsukh Purevsuren
Head of External Relations Office
Mongolia Telecom


Mongolia is situated in the central part of the Asian continent having a common frontier with Russia in the north and with China in the south. It occupies a territory of 1.565.000 square kilometers and has a population of 2,4 million. The density is 1,5 inhabitants per square kilometer.

The territory of Mongolia is sparsely populated and in addition to that about a half of the whole population is migrating within the country which is the peculiarity of the country.

The climate is dry and sharp continental. The highest temperature is around 35 degrees above zero by centigrate and the lowest is same but minus.

The main religion is buddism. It can be said that Mongolia is a country of youth, because 45,5 per cent of the total population is young people under 20 years old. Mongolia is at present in a transformation process from centrally planned economy to a market economy.


At a superficial glance women in Mongolia are not under a serious problem of discrimination. The same or even better status in some human development indicators such as education. The socialist state prior to 1990 paid attention to strengthening the position of women. It took the responsibilities on itself some of the traditional role and duties of women and provided the available service of kindergartens and nursery schools thus enabling women to be employed and educated. As a result, the achievement was made in gender equality.

However, in the recent years of transition to a market economy some worrying signs of stepping back have appeared. The existing documents on gender issues state that Mongolian women are being affected by some unequal conditions. For instance, they are engaged in unpaid work such as household maintenance, rearing children, caring husbands and elders. The competitiveness of women is weak in relation to men in the labour market. They have a lower security of employment place and first of all they are made redundant. Since women are eligible to more social safety, service employers are reluctant to recruit them.

At present unemployment rate of women is 4,6-8,6 % lower than men’s.

The transit to market economy relations in Mongolia has provoked the needs to estimate women’s contribution to their families and total economy.

Integrating women in development is based not only on equity and social justice, or welfare arguments. It is also essential for successful economic and social development. Women make an important contribution to the economy and society in their multiple roles as producers in the economy and within the household.

Successful integration of women in development programmes will contribute significantly to improving the distribution of wealth, income and well-being by helping those who need it most.

Every citizen has the right to participate in the leadership of the country as decreed in the Convention on Political Rights of Women.

At present 11,2 % of all the Parliament members of Mongolia, 37,6 % and 25 % of staffs who work in the Governmental organizations, agencies and local governments are women accordingly.

Nevertheless there is a representation of women at decision making level at some degree, these figures prove, it is not good enough as compared with the number of highly qualified women.

In Mongolia the gender inequality is not acute as opposed to other developing countries.

Since the gender equality is of ongoing consideration in policy making, I think, its inequality can not go deeper.


Mongolian Telecommunications Company (MTC) was established in 1992 as a entirely state owned company.

In accordance with the decision of the Mongolian Government MTC was privatized in 1995. Korea Telecom has purchased 40 per cent of its total shares through an open international competitive bidding and the remaining shares are owned by the Mongolian Government and the public what made the Mongolian Telecommunications Company as a joint stock-holding company named MONGOLIA TELECOM.

Mongolia Telecom provides a wide range of telecommunications product offerings to the customers in a highly competitive environment. Today Mongolia Telecom provides following telecommunications services under the license obtained from the Government:

Mongolia Telecom has established a daughter company named MICOM with its 100 per cent investment for running public Internet service under a license. In addition to the basic services such as Internet, electronic mail, web design services and Internet service through leased line, it also provides the system integration services for different organizations.

Now MTC is member of APSCC (Asia Pacific Satellite Communications Counsil), INTELSAT, PTC (Pacific Telecommunications Counsil), APT and engaged in the activities of ITU (International Telecommunication Union The high priority issue for improving the competitiveness of the company is to speed up the information and telecommunications network development and the technological convergence, introduce a variety of new services in order to meet the increasingly diversifying needs of our customers and run proper operation and maintenance.

MT has become a financially viable company which has over 4500 employees of which 46% are male, 54% female.

Women in Mongolia Telecom are working diligently for developing information and communication sector, meeting the increasing demand of all the customers hand in hand with men.

All employees of Mongolia Telecom including male and female workers are provided with equal rights according to the related laws of Mongolia as the other Mongolian citizens. For instance, the Labour Law of Mongolia regulates rights and obligations of both administration and workers, and conditions of collective agreements between administration and Trade Union. It is both a regulating law and a workers’ protection law. The law regulates wages, gives maximum working hours and have special chapters on protection for minors, women, disabled workers, workers in hard working conditions etc. It also regulates holidays, free time, disciplinary actions and dismissals. The law covers all companies and institutions, private and public. Nor are there any provision in this Law discriminating women and men.

Mongolia Telecom strictly follows this Law in respect with its employees. Because of the social and economic problems caused by the rapid transition to market economy, Mongolia Telecom is endeavoring to help secure the welfare of the employees. It provides its employees with supplementary payment for lunch, transportation and heat expenditures. Retired workers also get monthly allowances from MT.

Mongolia Telecom has a kindergarten and rest house devoted for its employees under its ownership. It also helps to the employees to purchase flats in addition to the blocks of flats owned by the company. All these benefits are supplied equally to male and female workers. It can be said that Mongolia Telecom provides all its female employees with the same rights and conditions as the male employees on the legal basis.

But, compared to male workers the female workers spend far much time on unpaid work or house work, caring children, elders and the other members of household in addition to their paid work in the company. In this way some female employees are double burdened with inputs to social reproduction and sustainable human development. In other words, the some women are carrying these traditional duties and responsibilities only on their shoulders. These socially differentiated roles and characteristics attributed by a given culture to women and men.

Besides these socially-constituted different duties and responsibilities of women and men in the sphere of their family, a few number of women live under severe pressure of their husbands.

Mongolia Telecom takes some measures to lighten the double burden of its female workers.

On the basis of the annual work appraisal, it awards the women who achieves the best result in their work by a pass to have a rest in any rest house or sanatorium for two weeks at the cost of the company.

Single mothers who have many children living under poverty line get some sort of supports from the company upon their request. For instance, company delivers to them coal or wood for heating in winter time, gives a cash allowance contributing in their payment for training their children etc. Company also assist to women giving birth. They are partially paid by the company during 2 years in addition to their allowance which they get from the national insurance fund.

International women’s day on March 8 and International childrens’ day on June 1 are widely celebrated by the company. On these days the management of the company receive all female employees, congratulate them, distribute gifts and arrange a party. The other male workers also show respect to the women and congratulate them too.

Human Resource Development Plan of Mongolia Telecom was elaborated in 1996 in cooperation with Telenor Consult company which covers a wide range of human resources matters. The Plan recommends to promote and support women in Mongolia Telecom with potential for a management career. 54 % of all employees are women and over 40 % of the engineers are women. Therefore, it was emphasized to utilize and develop this resource in the future. A minimum of 20 % of the candidates for management positions were to be female.

According to this HR development plan, different training for the employees and tailored management developments programmes for top and middle managers during the past years. For instance, in 1999 42 different training involving 790 persons , 37 trainings involving 735 persons in 2000 were conducted only at the Training center of MT where around 65-70 per cent were women. In addition to such trainings around 15-20 persons attended training programmes abroad.

Today 20.5 % of senior managers of Mongolia Telecom are female against 8.8 % of those were female when the HR development plan was drafted and targeted to increase this per cent up to 20 %. It means, MT has achieved this target.

There is not much information in the sphere of gender equality in ICT of both Mongolia and Mongolia Telecom. The limited reliable data on this matter makes it difficult to assess the full extend of women’s status in that field.

At the end, I want to say that female workers of Mongolia Telecom have equal status and its all customers including female customers are entitled to have its services in the same condition as male customers.

In order to ensure equal gender participation in ICT Mongolia Telecom is improving and expanding its services by introducing advanced technology. It is supporting information structures for free exchange of information by women and men.