It has been five years since the report, Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity, highlighted the disparity in mobile phone ownership between men and women in low- and middle-income countries and drew increased attention to the issue of women’s access to mobile phones. Since then, access to mobile phones has increased substantially, including for women. Mobile phone penetration rates are accelerating rapidly in the developing world, and new, more affordable handsets are increasingly available. A substantial body of knowledge about access and usage of mobile phones has also improved understanding of how women interact with this life-enhancing mobile technology. Despite the progress that has been made over the last five years, there are still challenges to be overcome in ensuring women are included in an increasingly connected and internet-enabled world.
Mobile phones are important tools for enhancing the lives of women in low- and middle-income countries. Mobile phones help women feel safer and more connected, save time and money, and access lifeenhancing services such as mobile money, or potential education and employment opportunities.
This report aims to build on the findings of the original study and the work of others in the last five years, highlight the progress that has been made, and identify new challenges and opportunities. The report examines how many women in low- and middleincome countries own mobile phones, how intensively they use them, and the barriers to mobile phone adoption and use compared to men.