10 March 2012

Striving and Surviving: exploring the lives of women at the Base of the Pyramid

Be the first to share
Media
Business
Services
Social Issues

On International Women’s Day, the GSMA mWomen Programme released a study called “Striving and Surviving – Exploring the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid,” reports MobileActive.org.

Drawn from 2,500 interviews with women (aged 16-64 in both rural and urban areas) living on less that $2 a day in Egypt, India, Papua New Guinea, and Uganda, the report looks at how mobile technology influences the way women approach health, economic development, and family relationships, and what mobile operators can do to reach more low-income women.

The report is divided into three parts; part one looks at the social, cultural, and economic factors that women at the base of the economic pyramid face in their daily lives, part two looks at the role of mobile technology in their lives, and part three looks at how technology can be used to further reach low-income women.

Some of the statistics pulled from the report show that when asked what the key benefits of mobile would be: [quoted from report]

  • 80% reported being connected to friends and family
  • 58% said it would be useful in an emergency
  • 40% said it would cut down on travel time
  • 15% believed it would help them feel secure
  • 93% reported that mobile phones made them feel safer, while the same proportion particularly valued being connected to friends and family.
  • 41% reported that owning a mobile had helped them increase their income or their professional prospects
  • 85% of mobile owners reported a greater feeling of independence

The study found that despite general positive feelings toward mobile technology, there are many challenges to getting mobile technology into the hands of low-income women. Gender imbalances were a major issue, as although some women had access to mobile phones through friends or family, few owned their own mobile phone. Another major issue was technical ability, as “while 77% of BoP women have made a mobile phone call, only 37% have sent an SMS, regardless of literacy levels.” Among women who were surveyed, 22% who reported not wanting a mobile phone said their reason was because they would not know how to use it.

Other concerns women listed for using mobile phones were a lack of regular access to electricity to keep the phone charged, concerns about theft, and concerns about ownership and usage costs. Furthermore, family pressure was a large influence on women’s view of technology as the report states: “In addition to doubts about the cost/benefit analysis of mobile ownership, 64% of married women who do not wish to own handsets cited the disapproval of their husbands as a principle reason for not wanting to own a phone.”

“Striving and Surviving” also examines how mobile operators can increase their outreach to women at the base of the pyramid by addressing women’s concerns. By developing family plans and reaching out to male and female customers by highlighting security and family connectivity available through mobile technology, mobile operators can broaden their customer base while getting technology into the hands of women who need it.

An interesting aspect of the report is the Portraits series, a fictionalized account of eight women from the base of the pyramid who use mobile technology and explain how that technology fits into their everyday lives. The stories are interspersed throughout the final report, but are also collected in a separate paper called “Portraits: A Glimpse into the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid.”

Although the accounts are fictionalized, they are drawn from the research that went into creating “Striving and Surviving – Exploring the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid.” The reports look at the lives of everyday women and how they use and view mobile technology.

Because the data for the report is drawn from only four countries, the GSMA mWomen Programme has made all of the research tools used to create this report publicly available at www.mwomen.org to inspire further research.

Executive summary
Report download
Portrait series
Research tools

Be the first to share
10 October 2019
Smart City Index that takes citizen engagement into account
A team of researchers from IMD in Switzerland and SUTD in Singapore put together the Smart City Index. For the first time, researchers attempted to assess people’s perceptions of technology – as opposed to the …
24 August 2019
[Book] The Costs of Connection
The Costs of Connection: How Data Is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating It for Capitalism by Nick Couldry and Ulises A. Mejias Stanford University Press August 2019, 352 pages Just about any social need is now met with an …
24 August 2019
End user perceptions of smart home device data practices and risks
"I don't own the data": End User Perceptions of Smart Home Device Data Practices and Risks Madiha Tabassum, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Tomasz Kosinski, Chalmers University of Technology; Heather Lipford, University of North Carolina …
17 July 2019
The digital lives of refugees [Research report]
There is growing recognition among donors and humanitarian organisations that mobile technology and mobile network operators (MNOs) have an important role to play in the delivery of dignified aid. This includes providing digital tools that …
5 April 2019
The story of Spotify personas
Spotify's product designer Mady Torres de Souza and senior user researchers Olga Hörding and Sohit Karol explain how they developed their personas tool, how they use it today and why it’s so useful for an …
31 March 2019
Research findings send automated sentiment analysis to the trash bin
The age of social media has opened up exciting opportunities for researchers to investigate people’s emotional states on a massive scale. For example, one study found that tweets contain more positive emotional words in the …
16 February 2019
[Book] The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West
The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West by Payal Arora Harvard University Press, 2019 280 pages A digital anthropologist examines the online lives of millions of people in China, India, Brazil, and across the Middle East—home to …
13 February 2019
Papers on behaviour, design and the circular economy
Consumer insights into the circular economy Report of stakeholder meeting, 25 October 2018, 14 pages The "Stakeholder Meeting: Consumer Insights into the Circular Economy" in Brussels on 25 October 2018, was co-organised by the Collaborating Centre on …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

5 July 2019
Experientia on addressing vaccine hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy is a top10 global health threat. Dealing with it successfully requires understanding it as a behaviour and generating a holistic view of people’s perspectives & ecosystems. This way we can identify the best opportunities for intervention. Here is Experientia’s position on vaccine hesitancy and our tailor-made support for the vaccine industry.

2 May 2019
MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” competition now calling for applications

100&Change is a MacArthur Foundation competition for a $100 million grant to fund a single proposal that will make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem. 100&Change will select a bold proposal that promises real progress toward solving a critical problem of our time. And it will award a $100 million grant to help make […]

19 March 2019
Interested in a career with us?

Then we are interested in hearing from you. We have several positions available for talented UX/UI and service designers who are passionate about creating world-class user experiences. Please see the job descriptions on our website for more information, and send us your CV with a cover letter statement about yourself, your experience, and what UX […]

22 December 2018
Our very best wishes for 2019! / Auguri da Experientia!
4 October 2018
Bringing​ ​patients into focus at the Roche Innovation Summit

Experientia is proud to have been a key participant at the Roche Innovation Summit, held at Roche headquarters in Basel Switzerland on 19 June 2018. Themed “​Transforming the Healthcare Experience Together​”, the summit aimed to galvanize the Roche community around the future transformation of healthcare and diagnostics. With 800 attendees from Roche and Genentech global […]

13 June 2018
Invito: DesAlps design thinking workshop per la tua startup

Hai una startup? Hai mai pensato ai benefici che potrebbe trarre dal Design Thinking? Questa è l’opportunità per scoprirlo! DesAlps Workshop #2: Il Design Thinking per la tua startup! Giovedì 28 giugno 2018 – dalle 9:30 alle 17:00 @ I3P | Corso Castelfidardo 30/a, Torino —– Nell’ambito del progetto europeo DesAlps, un team di esperti […]

See all articles