OnQ Blog

New Report: Transforming Women’s Livelihoods through Mobile Broadband

Feb 18, 2014

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As someone who has witnessed firsthand the positive impact of mobile technology in emerging regions, I’m excited to share my perspective on a newly announced research report based on over 1,000 interviews with working women in developing countries. “Transforming Women’s Livelihoods Through Mobile Broadband,” is a result of our commitment to supporting projects and organizations that accelerate mobile adoption to empower women across the globe.

In my work to implement nearly 100 Qualcomm Wireless Reach projects in more than 35 countries, it is evident to me that mobile broadband offers extraordinary benefits to women by improving their access to information, work opportunities and education. Still, a woman in the developing world is 21 percent less likely to own a mobile phone than her male counterpart.1

Through our mWomen initiatives we have realized the industry needs to clearly understand why, despite the dramatic surge in mobile communications, women in the developing world are not fully realizing the value of mobile technology. Therefore, we collaborated with GSMA’s Mobile for Development mWomen Programme and Vital Wave Inc. to provide a holistic, data-backed view of working women’s needs in the developing world and the barriers that hinder mobile broadband adoption. It is my hope that the findings in this report will stimulate cooperation across government, industry, and the development community that will lead to the acceleration of mobile broadband adoption by women around the globe.

Based on interviews with women in five countries—Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Nigeria—working women were segmented into five distinct, mutually exclusive, groups: urban entrepreneurs, young urban careerists, work and family warriors, young rurals and rural traditionalists. Women’s needs, attitudes, preferences, purchasing, and mobile phone use habits were characterized for each segment. The interviews uncovered the various forms of value that mobile broadband provides to women, as well as steps necessary to encourage approximately 800 million working women in developing countries to consider moving from feature phone ownership to smartphone ownership.2

One of the most common barriers reported for smartphone adoption was a lack of perceived benefit of mobile broadband. It is no coincidence that three-quarters of feature phone owners in the study do not use the Internet. Given the strong link between awareness of the value of the Internet and smartphone ownership, the wireless ecosystem has an unprecedented opportunity to advance the lives of women by accelerating the commitment to mobile broadband access and digital literacy programs.

I’m looking forward to the discussions this report will spark and to next steps in collaboration. Be sure to read the report and follow the conversation on Twitter (#mWomen) and Facebook. If you’re attending Mobile World Congress 2014, I encourage you to join us at the GSMA mWomen Seminar on February 24, from 2-4 pm in Room CC1.4. You can register here.

1 Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity 2 The Mobile Economy 2013 – GSMA and 2013 Insight: Key Trends for Smartphones and Mobile Devices in Latin America – LATAM TELECOM

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Shawn Covell

Vice President, Government Affairs