Leveraging Mobile Tech to Empower Women

In emerging economies, financial independence can give women greater control over their lives.

For a growing number of women worldwide, particularly those in underserved communities, the road to economic empowerment starts with a mobile device.

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The road to economic empowerment starts with a mobile device.

Women who have traditionally faced barriers to entrepreneurial success are discovering how they can use powerful handheld devices and an internet connection to gain access to the business skills, technology, markets, networks or capital they need to participate in the global economy – and improve their lives.

During the last 12 years, Qualcomm has brought wireless technology to underserved communities globally through Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™, our strategic social responsibility initiative.

Wireless Reach collaborates with a wide range of public and private sector organizations to create sustainable programs that strengthen economic and social development in the areas of education, entrepreneurship, healthcare, the environment and public safety.

Closing the gender gap

In The Global Gender Gap Report 2017, The World Economic Forum (WEF) notes a strong correlation between gender parity in economic development and “the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide.”

The report states that closing the gender gap in economic participation by about one-fourth could boost global Gross Domestic Product by an estimated $5.3 trillion by 2025. WEF calls for businesses “to prioritize gender equality as a critical economic and moral imperative.”

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Economic security earns women a more influential voice in tackling injustice and discrimination.

Many of our programs are designed to empower women and align with Goal 5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.

Through the Hapinoy Mobile Money Hub Program in the Philippines, women who run small, home-based convenience shops are generating a new revenue stream by using smartphones to provide valuable mobile financial services in their communities. Entrepreneurial women participating in the Mentoring Women in Business Program in Malaysia use mobile technology to connect and learn from business professionals around the world.

Social enterprises, including those focused on women at the base of the pyramid, use the TaroWorks mobile CRM platform to support and broaden opportunities for microentrepreneurs, enhancing their ability to earn new income.

In emerging economies, financial independence can give women greater control over their lives and their children’s lives. It enables them to feed their families, pay for school and healthcare services and save for long-term stability. Economic security earns them respect and a more influential voice in tackling injustice and discrimination in their communities and society at large.

Our programs also help achieve the social and economic priorities of governments – from which women stand to benefit.

Investment and growth

For example, investment in information and communications technology has been central to Malaysia’s economic growth. It is also vital to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Digital Malaysia agenda, which seeks to transform the nation into a digital economy by 2020. The mentoring program funded by Wireless Reach in that country is helping bring women into the equation.

Some Wireless Reach programs provide participants with mobile devices and connectivity. In others, participants use their own devices.

Many of the store owners participating in our mobile money program in the Philippines already had their own smartphones.

But now they’re using their devices in a commercially sustainable business model that’s improving their lives and contributing to the growth of their communities.

This article originally appeared on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation blog and was republished with permission.

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Angela Baker is Director at Qualcomm Wireless Reach.

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