17 October 2009

Myths and realities about women and mobile phones

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Women and mobile phones
Mobile phones have been a boon to developing countries and to social development. Access to mobiles may indeed allow for better medical information, change the way farmers grow and sell crops, expand the way families interact, influence the way governments treat their citizens, and improve the way students learn in schools.

But, asks MobileActive in its ongoing series on Mobile Myths and Realities: Deconstructing Mobile, what is the real story behind these benefits? And who really gains from them?

In her contribution to the series, Anne-Ryan Heatwole looks at “how women are or are not benefitting from the ubiquity of mobile telephony”.

“Mobile technology has the ability to change the way we communicate, but its effects are not evenly distributed. In societies that are divided by social and gender roles, women, especially rural women, are often left out. Gender disparity in society is often echoed in mobile usage; while technology allows some women greater social and economic freedom, in other cases, it simply upholds previously held social constructs. In the areas of social interactions, education, and economics, mobile phones have a distinctly gendered impact on its users. An examination of research and case studies that focus on women and mobile technology reveals that although access to mobile telephones has many benefits for female users, it not a solution to female poverty or gender inequality.”

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