Imagine if you picked up a smartphone and didn’t know how to use it. What must it be like to have such a powerful device in the palm of your hand and not be able to utilize it? For many technically illiterate women in the developing world, navigating a smartphone or even a more basic feature phone is a real challenge.
Based on research performed in Egypt, India, Papua New Guinea and Uganda, as part of the GSMA mWomen Program, we know that on average, resource-poor women are 22% less likely to want a mobile phone because they would not know how to use it. Yet we also know from other GSMA research that mobile phones afford women critical entrepreneurial opportunities, security, and a greater sense of family connection.
Mobile phone use in the developing world is exploding, yet women are at risk of being left behind, missing out on opportunities and services from education to healthcare. Making the user experience easier would open up a multitude of possibilities. So what if there was a more intuitive way of navigating your phone?
The GSMA mWomen Program, as part of USAID’s mWomen Global Development Alliance, has set out to do just that by launching the GSMA mWomen Design Challenge: Redefining the User Experience at the third annual Social Good Summit in New York. Through submissions from the global design and developer community, the Design Challenge seeks to increase access to life enhancing mobile services so that regardless of someone’s skill level, they can pick up a phone and maximize its potential.
At the Social Good Summit, USAID, GSMA, AusAID, Qtel Group and the design firm Huge, shared possible approaches to solving this issue, by making the mobile user interface and experience more intuitive. Mobile phones are a real game changer when it comes to tackling global challenges around the world but if the design does not change, hundreds of millions of women risk being left out in this next mobile revolution. That is a risk we cannot afford to take.