Closing the gender gap is high on the priorities of those working in global development and one way to accomplish this is through increasing the availability of mobile technology to women according to Patricia Mechael, Executive Director of mHealthAlliance. In her years working in global health and development, she saw first hand the realities of poverty and gender inequality. The social status of women has a negative effect on their health and ability to care for their families. Problems such as maternal mortality and unintended pregnancies are often the result of poor maternal health care and poor gender representation in countries.
Mobile technology is working to reduce the gender gap and provide women around the globe a chance at a healthy life. Women who would force abortions to save themselves from another mouth to feed now have access to vital family planning information and commodities through the increase of mobile technology. While less than a decade ago, the mobile penetration rate was in the single digits among low-income nations, today reports indicate it stands at 89%. The digital divide is shrinking between low and high-income nations, but women are still 21% less likely to own a mobile device compared to men. Millennium Development Goal #3 is to promote gender equality and empower women and providing them with mobile technology is a way to get closer to accomplishing that goal.
Beyond meeting MDG3, mobile technology is key in accomplishing MDG5, improving maternal health. The mHealth Alliance and the World Health Organization have worked to bring about mobile technology to improve maternal health. These projects use a variety of mobile technologies to provide everything from information about vaccines to improving access to essential medicine through reducing depletion of stock.
The advances in mobile technology have come a long way and will continue to be essential to promoting global development and accomplishing the MDGs. In addition, Mechael is working with her company to come up with ways to further include women in the development and discussion of mobile technology and applications to serve and assist them.