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Gender empowerment: ITU to partner with 'Smart Woman'

Mar 19, 2013

Smart Woman is a smartphone-based platform for gender empowerment by harnessing global ‘mobile miracle’.

ITU has announced it will become an official partner and supporting agency of the Smart Woman mobile-based learning programme. The programme was one of several presentations featured at the first meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development Working Group on Gender in Mexico City yesterday, as part of the 7th meeting of the Commission.

Designed initially for ‘2G’ cellular phones and now scaled up to leverage more advanced smartphone devices and tablets, SmartWoman is targeted at low- to middle-income urban and high-income rural women business owners. It offers learning in communication skills, banking, financial, health, and family work/life balance issues.

“This project, which is already operational in a number of developing economies including Nigeria and Indonesia and which will soon be launched in Kenya, Colombia and Mexico, has already proved its ability to change lives, delivering targeted educational messages in local languages to women, to help them improve their entrepreneurial skills, access to healthcare and financial management information, and general life skills. ITU is very proud to join other high-profile partners to support and promote this project, and hope our joint efforts can bring vital information and learning to millions more woman worldwide,” said ITU Dr Hamadoun I. Touré.

The SmartWoman platform has been developed by US-based social enterprise ChangeCorp. It was created to pioneer mobile learning content that has both a social purpose and a commercial benefit, to help people achieve knowledge and empowerment.

“We believe that The SmartWoman Project eliminates the cost and access barriers to entry for women receiving educational content through a sponsor-type programme,” said Louise Guido, CEO of ChangeCorp. “Women helping women is not new; but women supporting women through mobile is innovative and game changing. Not only that, but connecting a mobile community of women around the world is unprecedented – achievable only through the reach of mobile technology.”

Other SmartWoman partners include Alcatel-Lucent, United Office for Partnerships, Happy Hearts Fund, Wayuu Taya Foundation and many corporate and NGOs around the world.

The new partnership builds on ITU’s extensive work in the gender and technology space, including a partnership with NGO Telecentre.org which has already trained over 625,000 women worldwide and is on track to train one million by the 2015 MDG target date; the Tech Needs Girls campaign to promote ICT careers to young women; the annual Girls in ICT Day, which promotes ICT training and opportunities to school-age girls; and new initiatives to collect gender-disaggregated statistics on the state of ICT access worldwide.

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