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Improving the Health of Women Factory Workers

Knowledge IS power, particularly in the hands of women. I see it in places like South Africa where nurses (mostly women) use smartphones and 3G tablets to easily access health literature and provide better care to their patients. I see it in Malaysia where women entrepreneurs use 3G tablets to connect with mentors globally, enabling them to grow and maintain their own successful businesses.

Soon, thanks to a new Qualcomm Wireless Reach-supported project called Mobilizing HERhealth, women factory workers in China participating in the project will be using mobile technologies to access knowledge that will empower them to manage and improve their health.

Research from Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) shows that the majority of women working in China’s manufacturing sector are young, undereducated migrants who moved from rural areas to cities for jobs and suffer from a host of health problems. Through the Mobilizing HERhealth program, these women will use 3G mobile tools to access important health information and services that can lead to reduced health risks and enhanced well-being.

I had the honor of announcing the Mobilizing HERhealth program in Beijing, China, prior to the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women and the Economy Forum. I was delighted to be there with BSR and ThunderSoft who are joining Wireless Reach in this collaboration.

Mobilizing HERhealth is a mobile version of BSR’s HERhealth initiative, which already provides health training and other services to women in factories throughout the world. Whereas the existing HERhealth program relies on peer educators to deliver the training, the beauty of the Mobilizing HERhealth program is that it enables the women factory workers to access the information on their own, when and where they need it, amplifying the success of BSR’s initiative.

The Mobilizing HERhealth project’s pilot phase will initially reach approximately 200 women workers in two Chinese factories. I am optimistic about the program’s future and envision its expansion to all 100 Chinese factories where BSR has a presence, potentially reaching nearly 110,000 women.

Qualcomm is committed to socio-economic development in China and the Mobilizing HERhealth project is just one example of our dedication to contributing to China’s prosperity. In fact, Wireless Reach has been working in China since 2006 on programs that leverage mobile broadband to achieve economic and social impact. These programs have directly or indirectly benefitted nearly 850,000 people in China.

I am very passionate about using mobile technology to empower women globally, and BSR’s programs further that passion by empowering women in the areas of health, economics, and women’s rights. I also believe it’s important to train women on the benefits of mobile technology — the way we’re doing with the Mobilizing HERhealth program — because of its incredible potential to improve women’s lives.

For me, the most heartwarming part is seeing how, for each woman impacted by the program, there will be a ripple effect where the health benefits then spread throughout communities, ultimately improving the lives of not only the individual, but everyone with whom she comes into contact.

To learn more about Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative, please visit our website.

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