Husbands Stop Women Owning Mobile Phones
Husbands are stopping women from owning mobile phones in some African countries, while women worldwide are 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than men.
GSMA, the group that organises Mobile World Congress, says one research subject in Uganda told them: "Before I had a mobile phone it was very difficult to know what was happening with my relatives in the village... my husband could only give me permission twice a year to visit them... now I feel closer to them since I can talk to them..."
Another, also in Uganda told researchers: "... One day as I was walking from school I witnessed a woman being gang raped...From that time I decided that I would rather remain home than walk to school when I don't have fare for transport..."
The GSMA's mWomen programme wants to change women's lives by reducing the mobile phone gender gap by 50% by 2014, bringing mobile connectivity and services to more than 150 million women in "emerging markets", including all African countries and many Asian countries.
Conducted in partnership with USAID and AusAID, the mWomen report entitled Striving and Surviving - Exploring the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid took input from over 2,500 women, finding that:
- 74% of married women who did not want a mobile phone said it was because their husbands would not allow it.
- 22% said the main reason was that they "wouldn't know how to use it"
- 77% of women in developing countries have made a mobile phone call, but only 37% have sent an SMS, regardless of literacy levels with many stating they did not find SMS texting useful.
- 84% of women wanted better healthcare information, but just 39% expressed a specific interest in receiving general healthcare information through their mobile phones.
Trina DasGupta, mWomen Programme Director, told The Huffington Post that it's crucial for women to have mobile phones to increase safety at the very least: "The report found that 93% of women reported that mobile phones made them feel safer and that they valued being connected to friends and family via their mobile phone. It's that simple.
A huge 85% of mobile owners felt more independent and 41% reported that owning a mobile had helped them increase their income. It's the stuff we take for granted in the UK."
The west has no such gender gap. Trina adds: "The study found no mobile phone gender gap in Western Europe. In fact, in 2009 (when the research was conducted), it was the opposite! There were 156 million male mobile subscribers and 162 million female subscribers in Western Europe."
In his speech at Mobile World Congress, Google's chief executive Eric Schmidt focused on the health apps that could soon be featured in cheap Android phones available to these markets.
He said that rather than forcing nomadic and tribal people into a Western way of using mobile technology, Android phones could help them maintain their traditional ways of life.