Telecoms hailed for bridging gender gap


MOBILE operators are working to close the gender gap towards financial inclusion after a study conducted by GSMA in Sub-Saharan Africa showed that women are 17 per cent less likely to own mobile phones compared to men.

Speaking on the sidelines of GSMA Mobile 360 conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Head of GSMA Connected Women, Ms Claire Sibthorpe, said women have not been empowered to be part of the digital life to transform their lives.

Ms Sibthorpe said the study revealed as well that 23 per cent of women are less likely to have access to internet compared to men. During the media briefing, Chief External Affairs Officer for Millicom, which trades as Tigo, Ms Rachel Samren, said her company is committed to work with other stakeholders to close the gender gap, noting further that the mobile operator had launched a service to connect women in Rwanda.

“Through this arrangement, we focus on providing the women with affordable feature and smartphones to empower them to access mobile money services and internet,” she explained. So far, over 209 mobile operators and stakeholders have partnered to enable women access mobile money services towards financial inclusion, she noted.

“Investing in women brings about multiplier effects to families and communities, the study showed that when a woman earns an income she invests more in her family than men,” Ms Samren pointed. During the conference yesterday, the GSMA Connected Women programme announced five new signatories to the Connected Women Commitment Initiative.

These include Vodacom Tanzania, EconetLeo, Orange Cote d’Ivoire, Safaricom Kenya and Telenor Pakistan. The five companies join other GSMA operator members in committing to connect millions more women in low- and middleincome countries by 2020.

Through the Connected Women Initiative, mobile operator partners have delivered lifeenhancing services to more than 17 million women in developing countries, supporting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number five on gender equality.

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies.

The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Mobile World Congress Americas and the Mobile 360 Series of conferences.

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