Award to GSMA for mWomen Initiative Activities

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
USAID Press Office

WASHINGTON, DC - 300 million fewer women than men own and access mobile phones in the developing world, according to a report released in 2010 by GSMA, the world's largest mobile industry association. The report highlights the barriers facing women's adoption of mobile technologies in the developing world.

In order to help close the gender gap in women's access to mobile technology, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of State announce a USAID award of close to $500,000 to the GSMA Development Fund in support of the mWomen Program to promote public-private partnerships to increase access to mobile technology among women in developing countries. This award follows an earlier Memorandum of Understanding between USAID and GSMA.

In October 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Cherie Blair and GSMA launched the mWomen Program in a global public-private partnership between the U.S. government, the worldwide mobile industry, and the international development community which aims to halve the mobile gender gap within three years.

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer, who has been instrumental in the mWomen Initiative, said: "Mobile technology has proven to be a powerful tool to strengthen global development and women's empowerment. As we have seen with microfinance, focusing on poor women and ensuring their inclusion in access to communication technologies will have a powerful and lasting impact on changing lives - be it further increasing economic opportunities, promoting literacy and education, advancing women's access to health care, or realizing greater financial inclusion. We see this access as a critical tool for women's empowerment."

Two-thirds of future mobile customers in the developing world will be women, creating economic and entrepreneurial opportunities, but only if the barriers to ownership are addressed. The four key barriers are the total cost of ownership of handsets and services; cultural barriers, including traditional attitudes about women owning assets; technical illiteracy; and perceived lack of need of mobile phones.

Maura O'Neill, USAID Senior Counselor to the Administrator on Innovation, notes, "Women cannot be left behind in this mobile revolution. With 300 million more women than men without access to mobile phones in the developing world they are not able to take advantage of mobile services and technologies for safety, family connections or business services that allow them to provide for their families. We have the unique opportunity to catalyze action and help mobile operators discover profitable business models that close the mobile gender gap."

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Last updated: October 19, 2017

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