Mobile: 300 million fewer female subscribers than male subscribers worldwide

[MWC2010] We all know about the gender gap in incomes, but I was very surprised to learn that there is a significant gender imbalance in mobile connectivity as well… Today, GSMA and the Cherie Blair Foundation published their ‘Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity’ Report , the first detailed global study of its kind. The report was mainly focused to understand the nature of women mobile subscribers in low and middle-income countries such as Kenya and India, and highlights the barriers facing women’s adoption of mobile technologies. It also shows that enabling more women to own a mobile phone would stimulate social and economic growth significantly.


Key findings show that:

  • There are 300 million fewer female subscribers than male subscribers worldwide
  • A woman is 21% less likely to own a phone than a man in low and middle-income countries – 23% in Africa, 24% in the Middle East, and 37% in South Asia
  • Regionally, the incremental annual revenue opportunity for operators ranges from US$740M in Latin America to US$4B in East Asia
  • Going forward, two thirds of potential new subscribers for mobile network operators will be women
  • Women in rural areas and lower income brackets stand to benefit the most from closing the gender gap
  • 93% of women report feeling safer because of their mobile phone
  • 85% of women report feeling more independent because of their mobile phone
  • 41% of women report having increased income and professional opportunities once they own a phone
  • Women account for 750 million of the 1.25 billion adults in low and middle-income countries who have mobile phone coverage, but don’t have a handset
  • If operators bring mobile phone penetration among women on a par with penetration among men, this report shows they would collectively earn US$13 billion in additional revenues each year
  • Previous research by Deloitte has shown that a 10% increase in mobile phone penetration rates is linked to an increase in developing country GDP by 1.2%

More info in the MWC/GSMA press release

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