We just celebrated International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the social, economic and political achievements of women.
Back in 1911, when the day was first observed, it was also a day of protest, to campaign for the right to work, for the vote, equal pay, education and to end discrimination. While the struggle for all this still continues in many parts of the world, a new addition in the demand should be ‘Right to mobile phone’.
Mobile phones are creating a similar impact as the voting rights that were being demanded a 100 year ago.
A recent research from the mWomen campaign, supported by Nokia, discovered that there are strong links between women’s wellbeing and access to a mobile phone.
93 per cent of women reported feeling safer and 85 per cent felt more independent because of their mobile phone.
Even financially, 41 per cent of women reported increased income and professional opportunities once they owned a mobile phone.
Women in rural areas and lower income brackets stand to benefit the most from access to mobiles as it provides them access not just to communication but also to a world of information thanks to the many services available these days — be it in the field of education, farming or marketing of produce. Mobile phones are also increasingly enabling banking services to reach rural and far flung areas, and lower income groups.
On average, a woman is 21 per cent less likely to own a mobile phone than a man is. This figure increases to 23 per cent if she lives in sub-Saharan Africa, 24 per cent if she lives in the Middle East and 37 per cent if she lives in South Asia.
However, the numbers are changing fast as prices of handsets and services fall. Women users are expected to comprise two thirds of total new mobile connections in future.
Mobile network providers and handset makers will increasingly need to customise their products to suit women’s needs better.