More than 3 billion people in low- and middle-income countries do not own mobile phones, and 1.7 billion of them are estimated to be women, according to the GSMA's 2015 report on Connected Women. Women on average are 14 percent less likely to own a mobile phone than men, which translates into 200 million fewer women than men owning mobile phones.
While there are various reasons for the gap, efforts are underway to close it, including through service innovation. In Iraq, for example, mobile operator Asiacell found that a barrier to entry for women was the number of harassment calls they received. The company therefore introduced a call-blocking service and doubled the number of women in its subscriber base. In Cambodia, there was a huge problem with men taking phones provided to women under a mobile technology project launched by Oxfam partner Women for Prosperity. The solution was to make the phones bright pink.
To find out more about what the GSMA, Orange, Ericsson and others are doing to empower women in low- to middle-income countries, check out this FierceWireless:Europe special report.