The Cherie Blair Foundation and GSMA Development Fund published a ground-breaking report in February 2010, quantifying the gender gap in mobile technology across developing countries – Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity. The report shows that, by extending the benefits of mobile phone ownership to more women, a host of social and economic goals can be advanced, but 300 million women are missing out on the mobile revolution. This translates to a $13bn revenue opportunity for mobile operators.

Using the findings of the report, GSMA is now leading in efforts to close the gender gap with their innovative mWomen programme.

mWomen aims to halve the gender gap, bringing the benefits of mobile technology to 150 million women. The programme has the backing of the private, public and non-profit sectors and the support of mWomen champions Cherie Blair, Helen Clark, Judith Rodin and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

‘By being better connected, women feel safer, find employment, start businesses, access banks, learn about market prices and altogether benefit socially and economically.’
– Cherie Blair


  • There are 300 million fewer female subscribers than male subscribers worldwide.
  • This translates to a $13bn revenue opportunity for mobile operators.
  • A woman is 21% less likely to own a phone than a man in low and middle-income countries.
  • 93% of women reported feeling safer because of their mobile phone.
  • 85% of women reported feeling more independent because of their mobile phones.


Mobile Telecommunications Industry:

  • Specifically address women in segmentation strategies and marketing tactics
  • Position the phone as a life enhancing and income-generating tool
  • Understand and operate within the local culture
  • Leverage alternative financing mechanisms and channels

Development Community:

  • Leverage alternative financing mechanisms and channels
  • Create innovative programmes to increase the uptake of mobile phones amongst women
  • Promote the mobile phone as an effective development tool which creates education, health, employment, banking and business opportunities
  • Help identify culturally relevant and acceptable ways of promoting mobile phone ownership amongst women


  • Shift the tax burden away from the poorest in society of which women are the majority
  • Create incentives for the development of mobile services that benefit women

All Stakeholders:

  • Collaborate for maximum impact
  • Designate high-profile champions of mobile phones for women
  • Conduct further research to advance understanding of women and mobile phones



The GSMA mWomen Programme is an unprecedented global public-private partnership between the worldwide mobile industry and the international development community. The Programme aims to reduce the mobile phone gender gap, enabling mobile ownership and more effective usage for women in emerging markets.

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