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Closing mobile’s “gender divide”

At the Networked Society Forum in Hong Kong last November, I sat and listened as Jeffrey Sachs described mobile connectivity as “the single most important instrument for development that we have“. Few people would disagree. A recent study by the GSM Association reported a 10% increase in mobile phone use leads to a 1.2% increase in a country’s GDP. Encouraging as this may be, it’s only half the story.

Women in the developing world are 21% less likely than men to own a mobile, leaving an estimated 300 million excluded from the social and economic opportunities that owning one might bring. If mobile phones do increase opportunity, then right now they’re not increasing it for everyone. Closing this “mobile gender gap” doesn’t just make sense for women – it’s also an opportunity believed to be worth a staggering $13 billion to network operators annually.

Empowering girls and women has long been a focus for the development community, and it’s easy to see why. In Sub Saharan Africa women produce 80% of household food and, when educated women run family farms, they’re able to increase yields by up to 20%. Research also suggests that increasing the earning power of women has additional benefits for the entire family through improvements in health, education and child nutrition. And when educated girls start earning an income, 90% of it is put straight back into their families. The number is nearer 40% for men. Yet, despite all this in many parts of the world women are more likely to go hungry than men, the number of girls out of school almost universally exceeds the number of boys, and – in the case of Sub Saharan Africa – women own only 1% of the land.

Whilst the introduction of the mobile phone alone is unlikely to solve any of these problems directly, targeted interventions can. Defining this opportunity is crucial, according to “Mobile Value Added Services: A Business Growth Opportunity for Women Entrepreneurs,” a new report released today by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women with support from the ExxonMobil Foundation. This milestone study is a major step for the Foundation – which tasks itself with helping women entrepreneurs across Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East – as it seeks to leverage the power of mobile phones and services for the women entrepreneurs its wider programmes support.

One key objective of the study, which focused mostly on Indonesia, Nigeria and Egypt, was to identify the most useful mobile value-added services which enable women entrepreneurs to advance their businesses. In the study, over 88% of women entrepreneurs said they were willing to use these services to address the core business challenges they face, and more than 82% of women entrepreneurs indicated a willingness to pay for them. Demand for the right service is clearly there. Identifying what those services should be was a key driver for commissioning the report.

Although mobile value added services were abundant in many of the areas covered in the study (over 200 different products were reviewed) surprisingly, none were tailored for the specific needs of women entrepreneurs. The Cherie Blair Foundation is now working with a number of commercial and non-profit partners to fill that gap and to provide a service that an overwhelming majority of women entrepreneurs desperately need.

You can download the full report here (PDF, 6Mb).

This article was also published on the Huffington Post website.

67 comments

1 changefeed { 05.10.12 at 8:35 am }

->@kiwanja: Closing mobile’s “gender divide” http://t.co/3T5vUC1q

2 Ken Banks { 05.10.12 at 8:41 am }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in the developing world: "Closing mobile’s gender divide". http://t.co/eUAKfxFb

3 Alexia Da Silva { 05.10.12 at 8:42 am }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in the developing world: "Closing mobile’s gender divide". http://t.co/eUAKfxFb

4 Emrys Schoemaker { 05.10.12 at 8:58 am }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in the developing world: "Closing mobile’s gender divide". http://t.co/eUAKfxFb

5 in2mentalhealth { 05.10.12 at 9:15 am }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in the developing world: "Closing mobile’s gender divide". http://t.co/eUAKfxFb

6 Fr@nthro { 05.10.12 at 9:24 am }

#anthro blog post: Closing mobile’s “gender divide”: At the Networked Society Forum in Hong Kong last November, … http://t.co/MngH3Rzc

7 Erica { 05.10.12 at 9:33 am }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in the developing world: "Closing mobile’s gender divide". http://t.co/eUAKfxFb

8 Top Anthropology { 05.10.12 at 9:33 am }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in the developing world: "Closing mobile’s gender divide". http://t.co/eUAKfxFb

9 Duncan Edwards { 05.10.12 at 10:04 am }

@bridge_ids @Georgie_Aboud RT @kiwanja: Closing mobile’s gender divide http://t.co/ctMH1NgN

10 Jaume Fortuny { 05.10.12 at 10:10 am }

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11 Jay_b Tusiime { 05.10.12 at 11:24 am }

RT @TopsyRT: Closing mobile's "gender divide" http://t.co/4HrQchwL

12 Michael Downey { 05.10.12 at 1:49 pm }

Closing mobile’s “gender divide” http://t.co/YtSiJMXM #ICT4D

13 Michael Downey { 05.10.12 at 1:49 pm }

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14 Shannon Turlington { 05.10.12 at 1:57 pm }

Closing mobile’s “gender divide” | Build it Kenny, and they will come… http://t.co/0oLWhfG7 (via Instapaper)

15 i RISE { 05.10.12 at 2:37 pm }

Closing mobile's “gender divide” | Build it Kenny, and they will come…: Empowering girls and women has long be… http://t.co/QaqddSmG

16 Closing mobile’s “gender divide” | Global Health Hub: news and blogosphere aggregator { 05.10.12 at 3:35 pm }

[...] Continue reading here: Closing mobile’s “gender divide” [...]

17 Tom Murphy { 05.10.12 at 4:02 pm }

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18 socialedge { 05.10.12 at 4:03 pm }

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19 Joel Bassuk { 05.10.12 at 4:06 pm }

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20 Mama D { 05.10.12 at 4:17 pm }

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21 Ceri Howes { 05.10.12 at 4:35 pm }

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22 Rama Kandarpa { 05.10.12 at 4:37 pm }

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23 Geri Stengel { 05.10.12 at 4:46 pm }

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24 Jenny Theus { 05.10.12 at 4:48 pm }

Closing #mobile's gender divide:Why we need #mobile services for #women entrepreneurs in developing world http://t.co/Mj5UEHhb via @kiwanja

25 SimplyMobys { 05.10.12 at 4:55 pm }

Closing mobile's “gender divide” | Build it Kenny, and they will come… http://t.co/z5IHcWIE

26 Julie Germany { 05.10.12 at 5:09 pm }

@Kiwanja wanja thanks for the post on women and mobile in the developing world! http://t.co/VTqKR4XN

27 Ken Banks { 05.10.12 at 5:17 pm }

@JulieG Any time, Julie! @SocialGoodApps Best read the report, which has some interesting data and needs analysis. http://t.co/eUAKfxFb

28 Diana Rodriguez-Wong { 05.10.12 at 5:24 pm }

Great post about closing mobile’s “gender divide”: we need more mobile services for women in the developing world http://t.co/0Ook0Jwc

29 Jenny Theus { 05.10.12 at 5:56 pm }

@JulieG Any time, Julie! @SocialGoodApps Best read the report, which has some interesting data and needs analysis. http://t.co/eUAKfxFb

30 Ken Banks { 05.10.12 at 6:59 pm }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in developing world: "Closing mobile's gender divide". http://t.co/eUAKfxFb

31 siobhangreen { 05.10.12 at 7:00 pm }

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32 Neelley Hicks { 05.10.12 at 8:49 pm }

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33 TechBridgeWorld { 05.10.12 at 8:59 pm }

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34 The Shelter Movie { 05.10.12 at 9:21 pm }

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35 Ritse Erumi { 05.10.12 at 11:10 pm }

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36 Colleen LaFontaine { 05.11.12 at 7:44 am }

RT @TopsyRT: Closing mobile's "gender divide" http://t.co/o5z9bLqB #development #gender #women #poverty

37 Francoise Clementi { 05.11.12 at 9:32 am }

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38 Relocation Africa { 05.11.12 at 1:07 pm }

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39 Emrys Schoemaker { 05.11.12 at 11:35 pm }

http://t.co/izVVX6rP — Closing mobile’s “gender divide”

40 Tim Barlott { 05.12.12 at 1:34 am }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in developing world: "Closing mobile's gender divide". http://t.co/eUAKfxFb

41 Liberationtech { 05.13.12 at 6:00 am }

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42 Charitha Ratwatte Jr { 05.13.12 at 6:08 am }

MT @Liberationtech: Closing #m4d's “gender divide” http://t.co/7rxgxD7L by @kiwanja via @emrys_s

43 Development Gateway { 05.15.12 at 5:02 pm }

@kiwanja hopes for closing the gender divide in mobile use http://t.co/5hctusfH

44 Paul Polak and team { 05.17.12 at 2:05 pm }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in developing world: "Closing mobile's gender divide". http://t.co/BOEKeBjr via @Kiwanja

45 Felix Kiptum { 05.17.12 at 2:27 pm }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in developing world: "Closing mobile's gender divide". http://t.co/BOEKeBjr via @Kiwanja

46 pesaDroid { 05.17.12 at 2:29 pm }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in developing world: "Closing mobile's gender divide". http://t.co/BOEKeBjr via @Kiwanja

47 Timamu { 05.17.12 at 3:17 pm }

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48 Dru Menaker { 05.17.12 at 4:58 pm }

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49 Boostzone Institute { 05.18.12 at 7:14 am }

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50 Boostzone Institute { 05.18.12 at 7:14 am }

Closing mobile’s “gender divide” http://t.co/1exwFPP3#ICT4D via @downey RT @TechBridgeWorld

51 Terry Zimmer { 05.18.12 at 7:18 am }

Les femmes dans le monde en développement sont 21% moins susceptibles que les hommes d'avoir un téléphone mobile http://t.co/6xRjn4tP

52 iDE { 05.23.12 at 6:30 pm }

Why we need mobile services for women entrepreneurs in developing world: "Closing mobile's gender divide". http://t.co/qVNGna66 via @Kiwanja

53 Lisa M Cespedes { 06.21.12 at 8:26 am }

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54 Women of Uganda Netw { 06.21.12 at 8:36 am }

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55 Moses Owiny { 06.21.12 at 9:09 am }

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56 joseph njoroge { 07.05.12 at 8:25 am }

Mobile connectivity is the single most important instrument for development that we have" – Jeffrey Sachs
http://t.co/G45EteLl

57 Solar Sister { 07.06.12 at 11:19 am }

"Closing Mobile's Gender Divide" By @kiwanja — a $13 Billion annual opportunity that is being missed http://t.co/oQyj45CU

58 Eunice Gnay { 07.06.12 at 11:22 am }

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59 Ken Banks { 11.13.12 at 12:05 pm }

Recent @CherieBlairFndn report covered the mobile gender divide, and the need to empower women. http://t.co/Sy5uqgqE #OpenUp12

60 HURIDOCS { 11.13.12 at 12:06 pm }

Recent @CherieBlairFndn report covered the mobile gender divide, and the need to empower women. http://t.co/Sy5uqgqE #OpenUp12

61 Katharine Tengtio { 11.13.12 at 12:07 pm }

Recent @CherieBlairFndn report covered the mobile gender divide, and the need to empower women. http://t.co/Sy5uqgqE #OpenUp12

62 Margaret OConnor { 11.13.12 at 12:12 pm }

How to get more mobiles in women's hands? @kiwanja @CherieBlairFndn . http://t.co/SQpV1Chf

63 Felicity McLean { 11.13.12 at 12:14 pm }

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64 Cherie Blair Fndn { 11.13.12 at 12:25 pm }

Recent @CherieBlairFndn report covered the mobile gender divide, and the need to empower women. http://t.co/Sy5uqgqE #OpenUp12

65 SciDev.Net { 11.13.12 at 4:13 pm }

Recent @CherieBlairFndn report covered the mobile gender divide, and the need to empower women. http://t.co/Sy5uqgqE #OpenUp12

66 Farm Radio Intl { 11.13.12 at 4:18 pm }

Recent @CherieBlairFndn report covered the mobile gender divide, and the need to empower women. http://t.co/Sy5uqgqE #OpenUp12

67 CD2Transition { 11.13.12 at 5:06 pm }

Recent @CherieBlairFndn report covered the mobile gender divide, and the need to empower women. http://t.co/Sy5uqgqE #OpenUp12

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