Mobile network operators along with representatives from the wider mobile ecosystem, vendors and academic experts from around the world will be travelling to Colombo, Sri Lanka this week for the latest meeting of the GSMA mWomen Working Group, hosted by Mobitel on 7-8 September 2011.
The interactive two day programme consists of thought-provoking discussion on recent research, and case studies with lively debates and interactive workshops.
The programme will present a forum for mobile operators and related industry experts to jointly explore opportunities to bring women into their customer base as well as partnering with expert content providers to create useful, relevant and reliable content to benefit women’s lives in order to expand on how mobile technology can sustainably empower women in the developing world.
The GSMA Development Fund created the ‘GSMA mWomen Programme’ after identifying a sizeable gender gap in mobile phone ownership in low to middle-income countries in a comprehensive study produced in 2010 in partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. The research ignited a desire amongst mobile operators and the development community to close the mobile phone gender gap and to generate both new commercial opportunity and social development.
The official launch of the GSMA mWomen Programme was attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, at the U.S State Department, Washington DC, USA in October 2010.
In pursuit of its vision of ushering the nation towards an “Infocom and Knowledge rich Society”, and building on the framework developed by the GSMA, Mobitel, Sri Lanka’s National Mobile Service Provider launched its own initiative to support the global GSMA mWomen Programme, styled under the theme “SHE” following the GSMA mWomen global launch, to enhance the lives of Sri Lankan women through the infusion of mobile ICT among them.
As an initial phase, Mobitel introduced a suite of tailored services for the Sri Lankan woman, which included preferential tariff plans for voice and broadband, priority service counter for ladies at main branches, as well as, an interactive voice based lifestyle portal named ‘Liya Waruna’, that can be accessed by simply dialing 222, on any Mobitel phone.
In pursuit of re-iterating its commitment in empowering women at the bottom of the pyramid, and in line with the GSMA mWomen Programme, Mobitel recently partnered with the Ruhuna Economic Development Agency (RUEDA) to provide women with an opportunity to create a livelihood by providing the necessary training and guidance to become Women Community Communication Promoters of Mobitel.
As part of its commitment to supporting the GSMA mWomen Programme, Mobitel is also being represented in the Programme’s ‘Working Group', established to unite operator members committed to closing the mobile phone gender gap in the developing world.
Anoma Laphir – Director Mobitel said “Mobitel is committed to making a valuable and measurable contribution to uplift the living standards of the various communities in Sri Lanka, through our service offerings. The GSMA mWomen programme furthers that objective. Further, as the National Mobile Service Provider, Mobitel is delighted to have been given the opportunity of hosting this programme in Sri Lanka as it provides us an ideal platform to ensure that the needs and aspirations of women in particularly the rural areas of our country are well-represented in this initiative.”
“Working Group meetings are a key part of our programme activities and we are delighted to be working with Mobitel at this September meeting,” said Trina Das Gupta, mWomen Programme Director, GSMA. “We look forward to a productive meeting with all our members from the mobile industry who have committed to closing the mobile phone gender gap and creating life-enhancing services for women.”
As of September 2011 the following mobile operators have pledged their support to close the mobile phone gender gap by 50 per cent over the next three years, enabling ownership of mobile phones for women in the developing world: AT&T, Banglalink, Bharti Airtel, Cell C, Dialog, Digicel, France Telecom/Orange, IDEA Cellular, Maxis, Mobitel, Mobilink, MTN, Orascom, Qtel, Roshan, Safaricom, SMART, Telenor, Telefónica O2, Trilogy International, Umniah, Uninor, Vodacom, Vodafone Group, Vodafone Essar and Vodafone Turkey. From the wider mobile ecosystem, the following partners have joined the GSMA mWomen Working Group: Ericsson, Google, Microsoft and Nokia.