On October 7th, 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton partnered with Cherie Blair and the GSM Association (GSMA) to launch mWomen Program, showing the United States’ support for increasing women’s access to mobile technologies through public-private partnerships. In addition to the USAID-GSMA-Gates Foundation commitment to halve the global gender gap of 300 million in the next three years, 20 mobile network operators representing 60 countries in the developing world also committed to closing the mobile phone gender gap. Some of the commitments include:
As we have seen with microfinance in the past, focusing on women and ensuring their inclusion – then in financial networks and today around communication technologies – has powerful and positive impact on changing lives. Further, mobile technologies can increase women’s sense of security and independence, promote literacy and education, advance women’s access to health, support women’s civic participation and activism, and increase economic opportunities, food security, and income. Thus, women and mobile are a winning combination; however, we must address the barriers to this potential, including issues around affordability and women’s access to productive assets.
As Secretary Clinton remarked, “mobile technology is no silver bullet.” In order for mobile tools to work, many other environmental conditions need to first be in place. The State Department will engage other governments and multi-lateral organizations to identify partnership opportunities and mobilize resources so mobile technology can truly be an equalizer for development and gender disparity.
To read about and watch the launch of the GSMA mWomen Program please visit the U.S. State Department's website.
Wenchi Yu, Policy Advisor, Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues, U.S. Department of State.