Mobile access empowers women, Vodafone study reveals

Vodafone said mobile literacy programmes for women could boost economic activity in emerging markets where it is active by $3.4 billion (€2.4 billion) per year from 2020.

Research by the operator conducted with consultancy Accenture and the Saïd Business School at Oxford University in the UK estimated mobile technology could enable 5.3 million women to learn to read by 2020 in emerging markets where Vodafone operates, which include Ghana, Egypt, and India.

Vodafone CEO, Vittorio Colao, said: "Even in the 21st century" women "often experience fewer and more limited opportunities than men in critical areas such as education, health and employment".

He noted there remains a large gender cap in access to mobile technology, "with an estimated 300 million fewer women than men around the world owning a mobile phone."

On a global level, improving women's access to mobile phones and services could provide a $29 billion boost to productivity by increasing the number of women in the workforce, and cutting public services costs, Vodafone said.

"Getting a mobile for the first time can change a woman's life forever," said Andrew Dunnett, director of the Vodafone Foundation. "[P]reventing the gender gap from widening would yield a significant economic benefit," he added.

The Vodafone Foundation is the charitable arm of the global mobile operator that invests in social projects in countries where Vodafone has operations. The foundation announced it is partnering with the Malala Fund--a programme established in 2013 to improve female education globally--to explore ways to use mobile technology to improve female literacy and access to education.

"We look forward to working with the Malala Fund to give more women the knowledge and skills to take greater control of their lives and increase their participation in the workforce," Dunnett said.

Mobile access for women also has benefits in developed markets. Vodafone said wireless technology could cut the number of domestic violence incidents by 80,000 between 2014 and 2020 if mobile alert systems were more widely deployed by local police services. The reduction in violence could also cut healthcare, security and legal costs by $800 million in 2020, the company said.

For more:
- see this Vodafone release
- see Vodafone's Connected Women report

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