It’s amazing how prevalent the use of mobile phones has become in the developed world as well as the developing world. In communities where people may not have access to clean drinking water or electricity, you can still see mobile phone usage. It is estimated that there are around 3.9 billion mobile subscribers worldwide. (Informa Telecoms & Media 2011). What is even more amazing is what an impact these mobile phones are having on the developing world, especially the women.
Mobile phones are being used to empower women worldwide. In a article “Woman’s Empowerment? There’s an APP For That” the author, Alice Newton, recalls her time working in Madagascar, and how the women used their mobile phones to empower themselves. She saw mobile phones as “one of the most powerful tools for development” especially for women. Mobile phones allow women more economic opportunities. In many rural countries, women have very particular family commitments. By using mobile phones, these women can do their family duties and still have time to work. Without mobile phones, to communicate with customers, these women would have to walk long distances. Business owners can now receive mobile payments, without neglecting family duties. She also states that communicating through mobile phones improves the safety of these women because walking to meet customers can be very unsafe for women. They can also utilize mobile banking which allows women to save money and build credit.
Mobile phones are also great ways for women to receive information. There are apps and games that teach women’s health. They give information on pregnancy and sexual health. Women are often time unable to receive this information and can not care for themselves and their children as well as they could. They are also able to receive information on politics. This information keeps women from having to rely on others, and allows them to be more self-sufficient. Another important role of mobile phones for women that Newton mentioned was the use of mobile phones to combat domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is a common problem, and now women can connect directly with authorities.
Though there has been an increase overall in phone usage in the developing world, there are still gender gaps. Newton states that “women are 21% less likely to own mobile phones, rising to 37% in some regions.”