The digital divide is an ever increasing problem in developing countries as it becomes harder for the rural population to access new and improved ICTs. In a similar fashion, another major source of the digital divide is the gender gap present in the developing countries due to economic and cultural barriers. Today, women, in comparison to men, are noticeably less likely to have access to essential technological resources. For example, mobile phones have become a major tool, providing “healthcare, banking services, agricultural and commodity pricing, literary training, and educational and employment opportunities.” Yet, as USAID points out, women encounter many challenges when trying to use or own mobile phones. These challenges include amount of literacy, costs of products, need for the technology, and cultural attitudes. Due to these barriers, the digital divide only increases when ICT initiatives are implemented.
For this reason, the GSMA mWomen Program was set up with a goal to “halve the mobile gender gap throughout the developing world, whereby 300 million fewer women than men own mobile phones.” The mWomen Program was set up after GSMA conducted a report entitled “Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity” in which they proved the existence of a gender gap in developing countries and also provided evidence of the positive impact ICTs such as mobile phones could have on women. USAID gave an award of $500,000 to GMSA solely for research. This money is being used to build a business case for women in the mobile industry. For example, they determined that the 300 million women they plan to target could give mobile industries $13 billion in extra revenue each year. In two years, the program already has a network of 115 countries helping with the research and is one of the first initiatives targeting women interaction in the mobile industry.
In fact, on November 30, a new 3-year Global Development Alliance (GDA) was announced with the GSMA mWomen Program to further increase mobile usage amongst women in the developing world. By partnering with many other organizations, the program has potential to make a great impact for the mobile industry.
Source: USAID ARTICLE