Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair have backed a new campaign aimed at bringing mobile communications to women in the developing world.
The GSMA mWomen Programme is aimed at enabling women who earn less than $2 a day to get access to mobile communications, and plans to give the technical training and cultural support to allow them to do so.
The programme was launched with a study from the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which found that 300 million women could benefit from such support. Such a programme also presented opportunities worth $13bn per annum for mobile operators, the report claimed.
"Mobile phones are an indispensable personal, economic and development tool, but 300 million women are missing out on the mobile revolution," said Blair.
“Helping more women access mobile technology means they can feel safer, improve their literacy, access vital health information and generate a better income. I know this programme will succeed because it has support from all sectors.”
The plan already has the backing of 20 leading mobile providers in 115 countries, including Nokia, AT&T, France Telecom/Orange, Telenor, Telefonica, and Vodafone. So far more than $10m has been pledged to support the programme.
“As the market leader with strong insights into the challenges faced by people in emerging markets, Nokia is particularly aware of the issues faced by women in getting access to quality yet affordable devices which also give them access to locally relevant and meaningful services that can improve their lives and the lives of their families," said Mary McDowell, executive vice president of mobile phones at Nokia.
“While much has been achieved, there is much more to be done and Nokia is committed to closing the gender gap.”
mWomen is also sponsoring a two tier developer contest, the mWomen Base of the Pyramid Apps Challenge, worth $20,000, to design applications that would be most useful to women in developing countries. Tier one will cover low end devices and tier two is for smartphones, and the winners will be announced at Mobile World Congress next year.
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