mobile phone

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Closing the mobile phone gender gap | 

Flickr, Nir Nussbaum

We’ve seen lots of stories about how the use of mobile phones, or cell phones, is rapidly expanding in developing countries and how this is transformative in so many ways.

What I didn’t know, and maybe you didn’t either, is that in many of these countries women are often excluded from the mobile phone revolution. Efforts to fix this inequity are described in an article “Mobile Phones for Women” by Robin Lloyd for Scientific American, in which she notes:

Mobile phones are nothing new in the developing world. Nonprofit agencies and NGOs have known for years how to partner effectively with telecommunications companies to deliver social goods such as cash payments to locals via mobile phones. The new challenge is getting the technology directly and specifically into the hands of women, rather than focusing on families. In the latter case the devices typically become male property, and women never touch the phones.

Lloyd’s article provides an interesting look at a new initiative, known as the mWoman Program, launched a few months ago by Cherie Blair, wife of former British PM Tony Blair, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Mobile phone banking in Haiti | 

The Gates Foundation just finished hosting the Global Savings Forum which included exploring how the poor can expand their use of mobile phones for financial services.

For a look at how this works, here’s a video about such a project Mercy Corps and a Seattle wireless company has already launched in Haiti:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGfWC343CaQ&feature=youtu.be