Can the Mobile Phone Change the World?

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The mobile phone is one of the most talked-about technologies to create widespread change. Mobile banking has become increasingly popular in many countries, giving access to credit to millions of people who otherwise would have been hiding cash under their mattresses . Innovative companies, such as Nokia, invest heavily in how best to serve these new populations. Releasing an Amharic language package in Ethiopia and email-capable, low-cost phones are just two examples of their work.

Some of the most exciting and potentially impactful outcomes are geared towards helping women. There is an excellent blog post on the various ways phones are helping women here. From everything to multi-language domestic abuse lines to access to mobile credit, phones are offering amazing resources to women otherwise left out of traditional power-structures.

These benefits fall into several categories as follows (and significantly for us, they hit many of FAT's target areas!):

1. Access to information- Since phones connect business people directly with market information rather than going through costly middlemen, they are able to maximize their profit. (See the popular story of Kerala's fisherman .) Also, for women who don't have access to important information in their communities about their safety and bodies, they can ask their questions to remote sources.

2. Livelihood options/skill training- Besides the benefits of using a phone for price-checking and business contacts, Grameen Phone (among others) is enabling women to rent out phones in their own villages for a profit. Read the BBC's take on their work.

3. Feeling of empowerment- possibly the most important outcome! Niti Bahn writes (in her amazing blog that you should all spend time browsing) about an example of a woman who gains new-found respect in her community through helping others learn how to use their phones. []

Can you think of additional benefits of mobile technologies? Are any of you involved in mobile technologies to help women? Use this space to tell us about them.

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