Vodafone has teamed up with the Malala Fund to increase female literacy in developing countries with mobile at the heart.
The Vodafone Foundation and the Malala Fund, set up by Malala Yousafzai, the ambassador for girls’ education worldwide, will look at the option of using mobile technology to eradicate female illiteracy and improve education for girls and women.
According to a report commissioned by the operator, providing women with greater access to mobile phones and services could increase global productivity by $29bn (£17.3bn) by 2020, as females join the workforce in greater numbers. The research undertaken by Oxford University’s Saïd Business Schoool also revealed that mobile-based literacy programmes could help 5.3 million women learn to read within six years and increase economic activity by $3.4bn (£2bn).
The Vodafone Connected Women report added that mobile technology could be used to increase safety for women as mobile-based alert systems could potentially cut domestic violence incidents by 80,000 in 2020. A knock-on effect of that is the potential $800m (£478m) savings on healthcare that could be made with violence prevention.
Vodafone Foundation director, Andrew Dunnett, said: ‘Getting a mobile for the first time can change a woman's life forever, and - as the Vodafone Connected Women report demonstrates - preventing the gender gap from widening would yield a significant economic benefit. We look forward to working with the Malala Fund to give more women the knowledge and skills to take greater control of their lives and increase their participation in the workforce.
‘Mobile alert systems also have a vital role to play in reducing the threat of domestic violence, and we would encourage all police services and agencies to make greater use of mobile technology to help keep vulnerable women safe.’