OnQ Blog

Advancing human rights through Wireless Reach

Dec 10, 2014

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Today marks the 64th anniversary of Human Rights Day.

While we believe in supporting human rights every day at Qualcomm, today provides a useful milestone for us to reflect on some of the work we have undertaken in the human rights space over the last year.

One in particular that stands out in my mind was the Spotlight on Sustainability event where I had the opportunity to interview human rights expert Christine Bader—the author of The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil

Christine shared her experiences developing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, working at BP and helping companies better integrate human rights into their operations, as well as key messages from her book, which asserts that we are living in an age when…“the world will often judge the company responsible for actions of those even tangentially involved in the business, from vendors to partners.” She also discussed the increasing importance of corporate social responsibility, including human rights, for those who execute those programs in today’s companies.

In my role leading Qualcomm® Wireless Reach, I found Christine’s thoughts on what human rights mean for business insightful and timely. Wireless Reach has been a source of many of Qualcomm’s human rights-related milestones for 2014, through a number of projects that illustrate our commitment to the UN Millennium Development Goals—specifically gender equality, child and maternal health, and universal education.

We’ve looked at how to solve these issues through the lens of technology. Qualcomm is, first and foremost, a company focused on technology innovation—our products and inventions power many of the smartphones and tablets that connect people, places and things worldwide. We have implemented technology-based programs and clearly see that our technologies have a role to play in the realization of the rights of every human.

Approximately 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to banks and credit cards, making it difficult to make payments and transfer money. In the Philippines, 37 percent of municipalities lack that access, which is why Wireless Reach recently launched the Hapinoy Mobile Money Hub program. This project aids small shop owners, primarily women, in growing their businesses and providing basic financial services for their community. Hapinoy has trained 3,000 female micro-entrepreneurs who operate home-based stores, and is demonstrating how entrepreneurs can use mobile devices as a means for growing local economies and providing financial services in parts of the world where they are currently unavailable.

In Morocco, Wireless Reach collaborated on the Mobile Ultrasound Patrol project to use portable ultrasound units, 3G-enabled smartphones and phablets, remote diagnostic software and 3G connectivity to improve care for women through early detection and treatment of major causes of maternal mortality. Early success in the project has led the Government of Morocco to commit to scaling the project throughout Morocco.

And one of our newest projects will support the education of girls in Myanmar. Qualcomm is bringing its expertise to a collaboration with Ericsson, UNESCO and others that will use mobile broadband to deliver educational content and teacher training to improve the learning outcomes of approximately 14,000 marginalized girls.

These are just a few of the many examples of how Qualcomm is using wireless technologies to improve people’s lives. Every day, I feel fortunate to be part of a team of individuals Christine Bader describes in her book—those who are given the opportunity within their companies to use our expertise. In Qualcomm’s case, mobile broadband—for the benefit of humankind.

Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Shawn Covell

Vice President, Government Affairs

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