The GSMA has launched the Connected Women Commitment Initiative, aimed at reducing the mobile gender gap. Initial commitments by GSMA operator members, with over 75 million mobile internet and mobile money customers, will aim to connect millions more women in low- and middle-income countries by 20201.
These operators will seek to increase the proportion of their female customers to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. This builds on the 15 million women already benefiting from female-focused services offered by the GSMA’s Connected Women operator partners.
“In an increasingly connected world, women are currently being left behind,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “GSMA research2 estimates there are 200 million fewer women than men who own a mobile phone in low- and middle-income countries. But even when women do own a mobile device, they are far less likely to use it for more sophisticated services, such as mobile internet and mobile money, and therefore miss out on key socio-economic opportunities. Ensuring digital and financial inclusion for women is critically important, as when women thrive, societies, businesses and economies thrive.”
The first GSMA operator members to have made Connected Women Commitments in their markets include Dialog Axiata PLC in Sri Lanka, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (Digi) in Malaysia, Indosat Ooredoo in Indonesia, Ooreeoo Maldives, Ooredoo Myanmar, Robi Axiata Limited in Bangladesh, Tigo Rwanda and Turkcell in Turkey. Existing and potential commitments amongst the mobile operators include, for example: increasing the number of female agents; improving the data top-up process to be safer and more appealing to women; and improving digital literacy among women through educational programmes and interactive content. Closing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage in the developing world could unlock an estimated US$170 billion market opportunity for the mobile industry in the period 2015-2020.
Operator Support for Connected Women Commitment Initiative
Dato’ Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, Managing Director, President and Group Chief Executive Officer, Axiata: “As a Group committed to the acceleration of the digital economy, Axiata welcomes efforts under the GSMA Connected Women programme to bridge the digital divide in the mobile industry. There is much more operators can do to encourage gender diversity and increase women’s ownership and use of the mobile phone. Improved access to mobile services opens up possibilities for women and girls in education, healthcare, enterprise and business. As such, Axiata supports initiatives for greater gender inclusion and equal opportunities in all the markets where we operate.”
Albern Murty, Chief Executive Officer, Digi: “Digi is happy to partner with the GSMA in a collective effort to bring mobile connectivity to more women globally. In Malaysia, six million women have yet to access the internet, and bridging the digital gender gap will help ensure these women can be active participants and contributors in the digital economy. We hope to see every Malaysian woman connected and empowered because we believe these efforts will cause a socio-economic ripple effect for the betterment of families, communities and society at large. In support of the GSMA’s Connected Women initiative, we commit to increasing the proportion of women in our mobile internet customer base in Malaysia from 42 per cent to 47 per cent by 2020.”
H.E. Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani, Group Chief Executive Officer, Ooredoo: “Mobile technology has a profound impact in enriching people’s lives and creating new opportunities for growth. However, a large percentage of women across the world are deprived of these possibilities due to challenges in accessing and using mobile phones and mobile internet. We are pleased to support GSMA’s Connected Women Commitment, with the aim to extend the opportunities of mobile technology to all women in Indonesia, Myanmar and the Maldives, ensuring that they too can reap its remarkable benefits for economic and social development.”
Tongai Maramba, Chief Executive Officer, Tigo Rwanda: “Tigo Rwanda is committed to increasing the number of women using mobile financial services from 39 per cent to 45 per cent by 2020. Women take on a significant amount of responsibility for their families’ financial management, including emergency payments, remittances and daily domestic management; in fact women direct up to 90 per cent of their income to their families and communities. Increasing women’s access to mobile financial services will in turn allow them to improve their quality of life, that of their families and that of their communities.”
Ebru Darip, Strategic Marketing Director, Turkcell: “Creating equal opportunities for women is one of Turkcell’s top priorities. Our corporate social responsibility projects span a wide range of issues varying from women’s economic inclusion to girls’ education. We also carry out our core business of providing communication and technology services in a way that meets the needs of women, especially through Turkcell’s Smart Women Club, which connects 2.8 million women from all over Turkey. We commit to improving mobile data use among women which will contribute significantly to our efforts of facilitating and enriching our customers’ lives. We are proud to be a part of this initiative which unites communication companies around a goal which has been central to our approach for a very long time.”