To empower 7 million vulnerable girls across eight countries with access to the services they need through mobile, Vodafone Group Foundation and Girl Effect have committed to creating a $25m fund in 5 years. The Vodafone Group Foundation will provide $5 million of the targeted contribution.
Vodafone Group Foundation and Girl Effect published a comprehensive report entitled “Real Girls, Real Lives, Connected” and revealed how girls, from 13 to 19 years old, access and use mobile technologies in 25 countries from all over the world. According to the report published on the International Day of the Girl, boys live in these countries are 1.5 times more likely to own a phone than girls, and 1.3 times more likely to own a smartphone. The study, advised by MIT D-Lab, shows that, societal prejudice and other barriers disproportionately restrict girls’ access and usage of mobile.
$5 million support from the Vodafone Group Foundation
According to the results of the research, Vodafone Group Foundation and Girl Effect have committed to empower 7 million vulnerable girls across 8 countries with access to the services they need through mobile. Working in partnership with multiple partners and funders, their aim is to generate total funds of up to $25m in five years, including a $5m contribution from the Vodafone Group Foundation to achieve this ambitious goal.
Girls are being left behind
About the report, Andrew Dunnett, Vodafone Group Foundation Director, said:
“Girls are being left behind. In many countries access to mobile is key to a girls’ health, learning and development. We need to face the reality that girls and boys do not have equal access to mobile, and design services that reach the girls and meet their needs in this context. We want this research to inform and support the tech and development sectors in meeting girls’ needs and making real progress in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
They barrow the mobile phones
According to the report, girls’ mobile phone access in developing countries is higher than expected; while only 44% of girls interviewed in the study say they own a phone, 52% of them access phones by borrowing one. The study reveals that phones make girls feel more connected (50%), provide access to education (47%), reduce boredom (62%), increase access to restricted information (26%), and increase their confidence (20%).
In addition, girls’ access and use is dramatically restricted by negative social norms that prevent them from having the same freedoms as boys. More than two-thirds (67%) of boys surveyed reported owning a phone. This ratio in girls is 44%. On the other hand, only 28% of boys borrow phones, as 52% of girls borrow phones.
Girls use it in day-to-day tasks
In countries like Nigeria, Malawi, and Tanzania, boys are more likely to use a phone for a more sophisticated range of activities than girls, for example using Whatsapp and Facebook, searching the Internet for news, or finding jobs. Girls, are more likely be restricted to using phones for more basic day-to-day tasks that require lower levels of tech literacy, like calling their parents or using the calculator.
Girls who break rules are punished
However, in countries like India and Bangladesh, girls seen using phones often face negative judgment from community members, meaning parents are more likely to ban access to a device. Girls who break rules around phones are also more likely to be punished by scolding, beatings, being kept out of school or even early marriage.
Restrictions on girls’ use of mobile also mean girls are more likely to resort to unsafe and covert behaviors to access phones. In locations such as Northern Nigeria, where girls need parental permission to use phones, girls say that boys will often give their girlfriend a secret phone, so that he can contact her privately whenever he wants. Moreover, in Malawi and Rwanda where access to mobile is restricted and girls’ tech literacy is low, even girls themselves fear that phones can lead to them ‘going astray’ by leading to contact with boys. In general, girls see parental safety concerns as the greatest barrier to mobile access (47%), whereas boys cite cost as their greatest barrier (60%).
A Manifesto with 5 topics
Based on the report, Girl Effect and Vodafone Group Foundation called on organizations operating in technology and development to recognize social pressures that prevent girls from accessing mobile technologies and to develop mobile products and services to meet the needs of those vulnerable children. In this context, the Vodafone Group Foundation and Girl Effect published a manifesto with 5 topics called Girls And Mobile. Manifesto called on the related sectors to take action for providing a holistic solution to the gender gap in the use of mobile devices, rewriting of digital literacy, developing designs for protection in online environment, making both boys and adult men become a part of the solution, supporting girls to expand their own digital horizons and co-creating.
Impacted the lives of over 800,000 women
Vodafone Group Foundation, which aims to make a difference with the power of technology all over the world, is focused on supporting the projects delivering public benefit through the application of technology across the areas of health, education and disaster relief. The Vodafone Group Foundation invests in the communities in which Vodafone operates and is at the center of a network of global and local social investment programs. The Vodafone Group Foundation has impacted the lives of over 800,000 women and girls through multiple programs including: life-saving emergency transport for pregnant women; support and surgery to women with obstetric fistula; community health care to pregnant and postpartum women; and access to testing and treatment for HIV+ mothers and children.
Girl Effect reached more than 48 million people in 66 countries
Girl Effect is a creative non-profit that uses media and mobile technology to empower girls to change their lives. Founded by the Nike Foundation in 2004, Girl Effect is active in 66 countries and has reached more than 48 million people through youth brands and mobile platforms that millions of young people love and interact with. Our work is helping girls to express themselves, value themselves, and build the relationships they need.
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