Six degrees of separation, once defined by roads lined with telephone poles, snail mail and the occasional world traveler, now exist mostly through mobile devices and wireless networks. While sometimes we may wish more separation existed, there are also many meaningful connections to be made as well.
Recently, I read a story about a biological mother being reunited with her son only four days after posting an inquiry on Facebook, but 22 years after he was adopted. And one of my favorite stories of connection details a Detroit musician living in poverty while unknowingly thriving as a music icon in South Africa, more popular than the Beatles or even Elvis! His fans finally found him 40 years later after dispelling rumors of his death and tracing him back to his hometown. Later, his story led to a movie recorded on a mobile phone that opened the Sundance Film Festival.
It is most exciting to see how mobile phones can help people living on less than $2.50 a day stay connected to knowledge and opportunity. Through Wireless Reach projects, mobile devices have helped bring communities closer together while simultaneously lifting women entrepreneurs out of poverty, providing quality health care to remote villages and educating children without access to traditional classrooms:
On June 21, I moderated a panel on Mobile Services for Women Empowerment at the first ever Changing Lives through Mobile Conference and Workshop hosted by United Nations in New York. Along with representatives from Foundation for Social Change, USAID, mHealth Alliance, Clinton Global Initiative and others, we were able to discuss case studies of innovative mobile strategies that impact the social and economic transformation of developing countries—and share how real change happens.
With nearly one billion women around the world expected to enter the global economy during the coming decade, Wireless Reach is excited to continue designing programs that accelerate women’s ownership of mobile devices and provide life-changing services for themselves and their families in the developing world.
I feel absolutely lucky to have a voice in such an important discussion – but more importantly, I want to encourage anyone with a mobile device to see who you can connect with and how many lives you can change. When you think about it, the other side of the world is most likely closer than the nearest telephone pole.