While technology has been at the forefront of the fight against global poverty, The Future of Wireless International Conference in Cambridge, U.K. has promoted new ideas on this front. According to Cherie Blair, one of the keynote speakers of the conference, the internet has the ability to equalize the poverty gap between men and women.
As a non-profit organization, Cambridge Wireless is dedicated to finding new and innovative uses for technologies. Blair looks towards Africa as the future of the internet and as a new platform for mobile and internet technologies. While many African nations have skipped forming industrialized infrastructure straight to cell phones, the number of people who have access to internet via cellphones is still disproportionately swayed.
In a market of nearly 84 million cellphones, the depth of knowledge that the internet provides can help develop skills in the rural areas. For instance, the implementation of tablet computers in Malaysia by the Cherie Blair Foundation has been successful in merging technology with mentoring from around the world. This Foundation has created a network of support and resources for women in Malaysia.
The Cherie Blair Foundation’s goal is to help women achieve financial independence and therefore gain greater control over their lives and their families. The path towards achieving this relies heavily on a program of mentorship and financial capital to help these women become self-sufficient. Investing in women has a trickle-down effect for their children since women invest about 90 percent of their profits into their families.
While the Cherie Blair Foundation has been pioneering the use of technology for economic progress, they are not alone. Many foundations around the world are using leapfrogging technologies to help advance developing countries. Initiatives like the One Laptop per Child have helped invest in generations of entrepreneurs in developing nations.
The internet and cell phone applications bring the world closer together than ever before, and they can be used to relieve poverty more and more as technology progresses. With the possibilities to gather knowledge from online resources as well as connect to people worldwide, the internet enables greater development than before.