Women’s access to mobile phones and mobile services are crucial first steps to address the digital gender divide. Across low- and middle-income countries, 82 per cent of women now own a mobile phone. Despite a perception mobile ownership is near universal, over 390 million women in these countries remain unconnected, which translates to a gender gap of 8 per cent.
Mobile is the primary means of internet access in low- and middle-income countries, particularly for women. Benefits are considerably greater for those who use mobile internet, highlighting the importance of ensuring women have access to mobile internet.
While device sharing and borrowing might provide women with a certain level of access, it fails to provide them with the privacy to access important (and potentially controversial) information, such as that pertaining to sexual or maternal health.
Addressing the mobile gender gap will bring benefits to society, the economy and to individual women and families, while also contributing to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Mobile operators are taking action to improve access to mobile phones and mobile services for women through ensuring handsets and services are more affordable, improving the usability and relevance of mobile services and handsets, raising awareness of the benefits of mobile services including mobile internet, and ensuring women feel safer using mobile technology.
Money for healthcare
In Kenya, mobile operator Safaricom is unlocking access to healthcare with mobile money for over 4.5 million people.
Yeheli, Sri Lanka
Dialog Axiata’s Yeheli app enables Sri Lankan women to ask experts anonymous questions on sensitive topics related to harassment, legal matters, their health and well-being.
Access to a mobile
In Bangladesh, Robi Axiata partnered with Bank Asia and Cignifi to launch Joyeeta, a monthly smartphone bundle programme with preferential rates for female customers.
Affordable internet access
By launching an LTE-enabled phone available for under $10, Jio made internet affordable and accessible for the digitally excluded in India, the vast majority of whom are women. In doing so, Jio brought 100 million internet-deprived feature phone users onto its mobile broadband platform, with a large number of them getting online for the very first time.
The GSMA works with mobile operators in collaboration with partners and international organisations on initiatives to close the gender gap globally. To get involved contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org