Human Rights Day: The Role Mobility Plays in Human Empowerment


We enjoy the convenience of our mobile phones, tablets and laptops every day in keeping in touch with our friends and families and accessing information.   In some parts of the world, mobile technology also plays a vital role in human empowerment and improving quality of lives.  In honoring Human Rights Day today, we are sharing insights from thought leaders in the non-profit sector from our 60 Second Insight program on how mobile technology makes a difference in people’s lives around the world.

Gender Equality

There is a mobile phone gender gap in low- to middle-income countries – according to Trina DasGupta, director of GSMA mWomen Program in a 60 Second Insight interview.  She pointed out that women are 21 percent less likely to own a mobile phone – an estimated gap of 300 million women. Programs like mWomen strive to close this gender gap by identifying culturally sensitive ways to reach women in these countries. For example, in some cultures, women are not able to enter stores that have all-male sales representatives, so mWomen has taken a critical look at the supply chain to pinpoint and reduce barriers, and raise technology accessibility among female populations.

According to mWomen research, mobile technology plays a significant role in human empowerment and life enhancement. Studies show that:

  • Nine out of 10 women feel safer with a mobile phone
  • 41 percent of women report having greater access to income generating opportunities


Giving Back

According to Premal Shah, President of Kiva, a non-profit organization committed to alleviating poverty through micro-lending, mobile technology has enabled humans to “do things, act on impulses to be the best version of ourselves in a way that we otherwise wouldn’t.” Thanks to philanthropic movements like Kiva, people across the globe can now connect with one another and have a level of transparency that didn’t exist a generation ago.

Through the use of mobile technology, a woman in a hut in Kenya can securely receive a microloan from a person in San Francisco, Calif. in a matter of seconds, and use it to purchase a cow to grow her business. The democratization and accessibility of capital enables that woman in Kenya and others across the world to make strides necessary to better her life and future, while empowering others to give back in ways that were once not possible.


Information and Innovation

Chris Locke, Managing Director of GSMA Development Fund, says that mobile technology now allows people to go beyond communication; they can also conduct transactions and access other services. This accessibility, coupled with touch capabilities, has been and will continue to be particularly empowering in emerging markets where literacy remains a barrier. According to Locke, being able to touch, swipe and use gestures is very critical in emerging countries. This will have significant impact on the GDP. One example is in Kenya, where there has been phenomenal innovation in mobile platforms to provide access to utilities, services, and information for the first time.