Mobile operators commit to connect more women
The global association of mobile operators, GSMA, has announced the launch of the Connected Women Commitment Initiative, aimed at reducing the mobile gender gap, at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Operators will seek to increase the proportion of their female customers to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, connecting millions more women in low- and middle-income countries by 2020. “In an increasingly connected world, women are currently being left behind,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “GSMA research estimates there are 200 million fewer women than men who own a mobile phone in low- and middle-income countries. But even when women do own a mobile device, they are far less likely to use it for more sophisticated services, such as mobile Internet and mobile money, and therefore miss out on key socio-economic opportunities. Ensuring digital and financial inclusion for women is critically important, as when women thrive, societies, businesses and economies thrive.” The first GSMA operator members to have made Connected Women Commitments in their markets include Dialog Axiata PLC in Sri Lanka, Digi Telecommunications in Malaysia, Indosat Ooredoo in Indonesia, Ooreeoo Maldives, Ooredoo Myanmar, Robi Axiata Limited in Bangladesh, Tigo Rwanda and Turkcell in Turkey. “Tigo Rwanda is committed to increasing the number of women using mobile financial services from 39 percent to 45 percent by 2020,” said Tongai Maramba, CEO, Tigo Rwanda. “Women take on a significant amount of responsibility for their families’ financial management, including emergency payments, remittances and daily domestic management; in fact women direct up to 90 percent of their income to their families and communities. Increasing women’s access to mobile financial services will in turn allow them to improve their quality of life, that of their families and that of their communities.” Existing and potential commitments include improving the data top-up process to be safer and more appealing to women and improving digital literacy among women through educational programmes and interactive content. According to GSMA, closing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage in the developing world could unlock an estimated US$170 billion market opportunity for the mobile industry in the period 2015-2020.
By Jonathan Andrews
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Photo: GSMA