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Mobile phones empower women in the developing world

10 Jun 20

Mobile phones empower women in the developing world

Nuffield Fellows’ research finds that mobile phones are driving a revolution for women.

A new research paper – whose authors include Nuffield Non-Stipendiary Fellow Valentina Rotondi, Professorial Fellow Ridhi Kashyap, and Senior Research Fellow Francesco Billari – has found that access to mobile phones is associated with lower gender inequalities, enhanced contraceptive use and lower maternal and child mortality.

As well as looking at individual-level effects of mobile-phone ownership for women in seven Sub-Saharan African countries, the study looks at the relationship between mobile access and multiple sustainable development indicators globally and found that this relationship is stronger in the developing world.

The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and covered on the University of Oxford’s website, finds that “Women who own a mobile phone are better informed about sexual and reproductive health services and empowered to make independent decisions.”

As co-author Ridhi Kashyap says, “Significant gender inequalities in mobile phone access still exist across the world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. This study highlights the urgent need to address these inequalities to be able to realise the empowering potential of the technology.”

The full article, ‘Leveraging mobile phones to attain sustainable development’, was published in PNAS (1 June 2020, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1909326117). Ridhi Kashyap also runs a web portal tracking real-time global gender inequalities in mobile and internet access at www.digitalgendergaps.org.