Gender inequality is not a new concept. Particularly, gender inequality is high in areas where women are restricted due to societal norms, cultural practices or religious beliefs. Robin LLyod’s article,Mobile Phones for Women: A New Approach for Social Welfare in the Developing World ,outlines how decreasing this divide can increase opportunities. He tells the story of a Palestinian girl, looking for employment, who has had trouble finding work due to the fact she is unable to leave her home without the accompaniment of a male. With use of her mobile phone she “posted a “mini-resume,” browsed for suitable jobs via text messages, and then interviewed in person after an appointment was set. On September 22nd, she started a data-entry job with the German aid agency GTZ.”
The use of mobiles greatly influenced her employment situation. The article continues to explain that though Salameh had access to a mobile phone this is not typical. Gender inequality when it comes to ICTs (in this case mobile phones) is even more extreme in restrictive cultures. The London-based telecom industry advocacy group GSMA (for Groupe Speciale Mobile Association) alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton initiated the mWomen Program which plans to “half the number of women in the developing world who lack mobile phones within three years by putting phones in the hands of another 150 million women.” They believe this initiative is important not only because of Salameh’s story and the resources mobile phones can provide, but also because women with phones tend to feel safer, more empowered and independent and more connected.
Although I believe ICTs and mobiles can provide all of the above, I hope their plans have instilled protections against the issues we’ve discussed in class with mobile phones. What about theft? Cost? Reception? Providing phones is only one step; who will be paying for the minutes?