The GSM Association released a new report showing that women in low and middle-income countries face significant barriers to accessing mobile phones. The report, made in conjunction with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, found that a woman in a low- or middle-income country is 21 percent less likely to have a cell phone than is a man.
Cherie Blair, the founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said the report shows that every woman in the world needs a mobile phone.
"Women can use this vital tool to help unlock real prospects for themselves, their families and their communities," she said in a statement. "By being better connected, women feel safer, find employment, start businesses, access banks, learn about market prices and altogether benefit socially and economically."
The report found that globally there are 300 million fewer female mobile subscribers than male subscribers. A woman in Africa is 23 percent less likely to own a phone than a man, 24 less likely in the Middle East and 37 percent less likely in South Asia. The report found that greater mobile usage by women would stimulate social and economic growth, while at the same time generating subscriber and revenue growth for mobile operators.
In addition to cataloging the gender gap in mobile usage, the report is calling on the wireless industry, development community and policy makers to specifically address women in segmentation strategies and marketing tactics and to promote mobile usage among women, especially as a tool for education, health and employment opportunities.
The GSMA is also partnering with Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan on an initiative called "1GOAL: Education for All mobile campaign." The goal is to ensure that every child in the world has the opportunity to go to school by 2015. Today, 72 million children worldwide still do not have access to basic schooling.
Some of the world's biggest operators, including AT&T Mobility, Bharti-Airtel, Hutchison 3 Group, NTT DoCoMo and SK Telecom, are joining in the effort.
- see these two releases
2009 Top Women in Wireless
GSMA-backed group initiates mobile broadband campaign