Operators have committed to reduce their gender gap by 2020
Mobile World Congress: The GSMA has announced the launch of the Connected Women Commitment Initiative, aimed at reducing the mobile gender gap.
Initial commitments by GSMA operator members, with over 75 million mobile internet and mobile money customers, will aim to connect millions more women in low and middle-income countries by 2020. These operators will seek to increase the proportion of their female customers to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. This builds on the 15 million women already benefiting from female-focused services offered by the GSMA’s Connected Women operator partners.
“In an increasingly connected world, women are currently being left behind,” said Mats Granryd, director general, GSMA. “GSMA research estimates there are 200 million fewer women than men who own a mobile phone in low and middle-income countries. But even when women do own a mobile device, they are far less likely to use it for more sophisticated services, such as mobile internet and mobile money, and therefore miss out on key socio-economic opportunities. Ensuring digital and financial inclusion for women is critically important, as when women thrive, societies, businesses and economies thrive.”
The first GSMA operator members to have made Connected Women Commitments in their markets include Dialog Axiata in Sri Lanka, Digi Telecommunications (Digi) in Malaysia, Indosat Ooredoo in Indonesia, Ooreeoo Maldives, Ooredoo Myanmar, Robi Axiata in Bangladesh, Tigo Rwanda and Turkcell in Turkey.
Existing and potential commitments amongst the mobile operators include: increasing the number of female agents; improving the data top up process to be safer and more appealing to women; and improving digital literacy among women through educational programmes and interactive content. Closing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage in the developing world could unlock an estimated $170 billion market opportunity for the mobile industry in the period 2015 to 2020, said the GSMA.
Dato’ Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, managing director, president and group CEO, Axiata, said, “There is much more operators can do to encourage gender diversity and increase women’s ownership and use of the mobile phone”. He added: “Improved access to mobile services opens up possibilities for women and girls in education, healthcare, enterprise and business. As such, Axiata supports initiatives for greater gender inclusion and equal opportunities in all the markets where we operate.”
Albern Murty, CDEO, Digi, stated that, “in Malaysia, six million women have yet to access the internet, and bridging the digital gender gap will help ensure these women can be active participants and contributors in the digital economy”. Murty stated that, “in support of the GSMA’s Connected Women initiative, we commit to increasing the proportion of women in our mobile internet customer base in Malaysia from 42% to 47% by 2020”.
Meanwhile, H.E. Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani, group CEO, Ooredoo, said: “Mobile technology has a profound impact in enriching people’s lives and creating new opportunities for growth. However, a large percentage of women across the world are deprived of these possibilities due to challenges in accessing and using mobile phones and mobile internet. We are pleased to support GSMA’s Connected Women Commitment, with the aim to extend the opportunities of mobile technology to all women in Indonesia, Myanmar and the Maldives, ensuring that they too can reap its remarkable benefits for economic and social development.”