Last month, I attended the Inaugural International Forum on Women, Information and Communication Technologies, and Development (WICTAD) in Washington, D.C., and had the chance to discuss Qualcomm’s dedication to closing the mobile phone gender gap.
With more than 6 billion connections worldwide, mobile has emerged as the largest technology platform in history. Unfortunately, despite a drastic uptake in technology and the fact that many women in developing and emerging markets have the ideas and ambition to succeed, women in these regions are much less likely to have access to the Internet than men—technology that’s invaluable in fostering business skills, education, professional networks and capital.
“There are so many possibilities for women in ICT (Information Communication Technology) but we need to work on the access issue. There is an obvious gender gap in mobile technology that needs to be addressed,” said U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne S. Verveer.
The “access issue” is exactly what we are working on through Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach™ initiative. Over the past seven years, we have been collaborating on projects that provide women entrepreneurs with mobile devices and applications with organizations including Grameen Foundation in Indonesia as well as the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Maxis in Malaysia.
We also are working to improve the lives of families by providing mothers and their children with educational content and access to health care—all through the power of wireless connectivity. Check out our collaboration with Sesame Workshop announced at CES that centers on researching and developing new ways to educate children using mobile devices and applications.
Meeting the wide range of people attending WICTAD, from the U.S. State Department, UNESCO, USAID, mHealth Alliance and more, confirmed that many of us clearly see the need to close the gender gap. At Qualcomm, we believe that mobile technology can have an immediate positive impact and is key to addressing this need.