The gender gap has even made its way into the mobile world. According to a GSMA report on Bridging the gender gap: Mobile access and usage in low- and middle-income countries , more than 3 billion people in low- and middle income homes do not own mobile phones. Of those, 1.7 million are women. According to this FierceWirelessEurope article outlining the GSMA findings, women are 14% less likely to own a mobile phone than men (translation: 200 million fewer women than men).
The inequities of this situation are inarguable. But there’s also a market dynamic at work that could drive significant change. GSMA claims that if usage was on par with men, it could represent a $170 billion market opportunity for the wireless industry. More importantly it would bring social and economic benefits to women themselves.
GSMA, Orange, and Ericsson are among a growing number of organizations working on restoring the balance. These include innovations such as mobile money services; enabling call-blocking services (in Iraq, Qatar Telecom found that call-blocking doubled the number of women in its subscriber base); and even something as simple as offering phones in more feminine colors to prevent men from taking them away from women. A number of countries are also introducing education and mobile phone distribution programs to encourage usage in rural communities. For more information, read FierceWirelessEurope’s detailed report on what’s being done.
Creating a level playing field is not going to be easy; and there’s no simple answer to how it can be achieved. But it’s good to know the issue is out there and that providers are willing to work with socially-minded organizations to do something about it.
How would you address the gender gap in mobile phone usage?
By the CEL-FI Team