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February 27, 2013

Mobile Devices Can Reduce the Gender Gap between Men and Women in Developing Countries



Technology, if it has one common thread of meaning, has created an opportunity for people all around the world to share the same experience. Whether it’s through social media apps or online gaming, everyone is given the same digital rights.

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Unfortunately, most parts of the world are not as advanced as the U.S. in its respect for women rights and role in society, especially in developing countries where there is an overlying lack of business opportunities even men. In light of this lack of advancement, a new report from GSMA mWomen Programme and Visa Inc. titled, “Unlocking the Potential: Women and Mobile Financial Services in Emerging Markets,” found that with the sufficient mobile finance services, women in such countries can begin creating a more independent role for themselves in society, and contribute to the development of such technology.

Before the women’s rights movement in the U.S., in a traditional household, men worked while women stayed home and cared for the household, bills and children. This typically holds true for developing countries today, yet when equipped with the right applications and mobile devices, women can play an important role in their household finances.

"This research clearly demonstrates that women play a critical role in the success of mobile financial services deployment," said Chris Locke, managing director, GSMA Mobile for Development. "It underscores the fact that services delivered via mobile phone can better meet women's financial management needs than many of the informal tools they use today and, equally important, provides actionable guidance about how MFS providers can best expand and market their services to better address women's requirements."

According to the survey, more than two billion people, with women as the majority, lack access to basic financial services. However, nearly 60 percent of the women surveyed use a variety of tools to save money for daily expenses and long-term needs, essentially opening a door of opportunity for financial services that are looking to target the ideal customer: women.

In order to reduce the “mobile phone gender gap,” mobile services have to increase access to women, increase awareness and understanding of mobile financial services and deliver high-quality customer services. Companies need to also improve the understanding of the different issues surrounding each country, like the lack of identification cards for women in Kenya and low literacy levels of women in Pakistan.

Who would have thought that technology would be the leading factor in helping to eliminate the gender discriminations that still exist in parts of the world today?




Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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