17 May: International Comms Day – Gender, Mobile Phones and Development
“The mobile cellular miracle is transforming lives in the world’s least developed countries”, argues this article in The Independent.
Just one out many recent articles highlighting how mobile phones can benefit poor people and poor communities.
And on 17 May each year (the anniversary of the the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union), World Telecomm Day (WTISD) is an occasion to “help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.”
This year, World Telecomms Day highlights the theme “Better life in rural communities with ICTs”.
But it is important to point out that when it comes to ownership and – critically – use of mobile phones, many social and economic inequalities remain, particularly in developing countries.
Women are more than 20% less likely to own a mobile phone, and the biggest obstacle for women is the initial cost of the handset.
For this reason, many projects in the area of Information and Communications Technology for Development (see our Resources page on ICT4Dev) focus on providing access to women to mobile phones.
See also this blog post on what keeps women out of ICT4Dev projects.
At the same time, these figures from Gambia show that there is “no real difference in rates of ownership, rates and scope of phone sharing, difficulties experienced, or dependency on mobiles” between women & men.
Time, therefore, for NGOs to invest more thought into the links between mobile phones, ICT and development.
* “Facebook for development? How mobile phones will transform NGOs” – http://bit.ly/lOStPk