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#ConnectedSheCan: Saving lives and helping women connect to a better future on #IWD19

26 Mar 2019Empowering People
4 minute read

The power of mobile technology is transformative – here’s how we’re using it to improve the lives of women around the world

The phone in your pocket and the technology that supports it might just seem like a handy way to chat to friends – while catching up on social media and keeping in touch with work.

But it’s far more than that – it’s a gateway to a better life for millions.

Even the most basic mobile handset has more processing power than the computers on board the first manned spacecraft to reach the moon, Apollo 11.


Which has made it the driving force behind a radical transformation in the way the world works, connecting people to each other more intimately than every before – and a window into the accumulated wisdom of our species in the palm of your hand.

Nowhere has this had a greater impact than in emerging market economies. And for women most of all.

The humble mobile phone had driven huge societal shifts – connecting millions to a better future through financial inclusion, healthcare, education, economic opportunity and independent communication.

This International Women’s Day, we’re shining a light on how Vodafone – and its charitable arm the Vodafone Foundation – is trying to close the mobile gender gap by helping millions connect to a better future, aiming for 50 million more women in emerging markets by 2025.

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At Mobile World Congress we welcomed Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women to our #ConnectedSheCan showcase. Picture credit: Vodafone

Phone a friend

Mum & Baby in South Africa gives 1.2 million families access to vital parenting advice in a country where there are only 1.2 nurses to every 1,000 people.

In a recent survey by KPMG to understand the impact of the programme, over 95% of parents who use it said it influenced their decision to breast feed or vaccinate their children, or attend a family health clinic.

Sakhi is a free mobile service developed by an all-female team of engineers based in India.

It’s helping the millions of women who use it to feel safer, reduce their risk of harassment and live more independent lives.

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Mum & Baby subscribers get tailored information sent to them via SMS. Picture credit: Vodafone

The most powerful weapon

The Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Schools for Africa initiative is using mobile technology to help half a million children access a quality education.

Girls in particular are benefiting from this programme in countries like the DRC, where a third of secondary school age girls are not enrolled in education.

By partnering with Girl Effect, the Vodafone Foundation is also helping connect seven million girls to information helping to shape their future.

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Fugia lives in Kakuma refugee camp, and has benefitted from the Instant Schools initiative. “Not every human being gets a chance of going to school. … This opportunity is very rare to many people, especially to us here in the camp …. It’s a right. It’s like oxygen for us. A person can never live without oxygen.”

Through M-Pesa, Vodafone is bringing financial inclusion to 14.9 million women who use the mobile money service in countries like Kenya and Tanzania in sub-Saharan Africa and India and Egypt.

Mobile money is an account linked to the sim card in your mobile phone, rather than a traditional bank. You can shop, transfer money, pay bills and more using the most basic mobile handsets.

Although widely used by all sections of society, it also helps the unbanked get access to formal financial services they might otherwise be unable to use.

This financial freedom is transforming lives for women, many of whom have become entrepreneurs and business owners thanks to this innovative form of mobile banking.

Vodafone M-pesa

M-Pesa was launched in 2007 in Kenya. The service let Felista send vital funds to her mother to pay for healthcare while she was desperately ill. Picture credit: Vodafone

Following through

Vodafone aims to be the best employer for women by 2025.

With a global maternity policy across 30 countries giving women a minimum of 16-weeks of fully paid leave, and the ability to work a four-day week for full time pay for the first six months after their return, the company is helping 1,500 families every year.

And through ReConnect, Vodafone is helping to get career-break women back into the workforce in management roles on a global scale.

Globally, 31% of management and leadership roles are held by women, with a 42% female board.

This isn’t box ticking – greater gender diversity drives successful businesses – finding the best people for the job and letting them shine.

#IWD2019 #ConnectedSheCan #BalanceforBetter

  • Digital services
  • Empowering People
  • Innovation

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