Key support for the GSMA mWomen initiative has come from USAID and AUSAID – and Qualcomm, which has extended support through its Wireless Reach programme.
Trina das Gupta, speaking at Mobile World Congress, highlighted the research underpinning mWomen, and the reality of transformation through empowerment. The gender gap in in terms of access to and utilisation of information and communications technologies represents more a social injustice. the denial of women to ICT environments is also a denial of commercial opportunity, of investment in society and economy, of industry towards progress.
There does not have to be a gender gap in communications. There can be opportunity gained through commercial imperatives, through the development of business frameworks and reference cases. Trina das Gupta has worked within a dedicated research programme to reveal the wants and needs of women in nine countries, and to relate these to actual and potential communications usage.
The research, encapsulated in a document entitled ‘Understanding the mWomen Lifecycle’, offers a guide to the mobile industry, to tap into and develop the unknown and unaddressed markets for female communications applications.
Social impact at a global level
Others supporting mWomen include Nokia, through its Next Billion directive. Key growth markets are China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria. Designs of units are changing, to increase appeal and functionality. Key to Nokia’s provision to emerging markets is its Life Tools suited of applications and services. Amongst Nokia’s operator collaborations is the example of Indosat, which has supported women’s health in Indonesia. Also supporting is Bharti Airtel, which has about 158mn subscribers in India and Africa – with 108mn in India, and 50mn in Africa. Bharti Airtel seeks to support through outreach to villages, such as it has already practiced in communities as small as 250 individuals in India, empowering women to generate business, to generate revenues, to generate economic and social value within and between communities. Fundamental to the success of the mWomen initiative is the support extended by Qualcomm through its Wireless Reach programme, which already has supported communities and commerce in emerging markets. Wireless Reach does this by leveraging partnerships with industry and community stakeholders – companies, non-governmental organisations, governmental agencies.Many such partnerships measurably improve women’s lives.