USAID, AusAID, GSMA and Visa Partner in GSMA mWomen Programme Global Development Alliance

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 30, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, today announced a new three-year partnership with the GSMA mWomen Programme to increase mobile phone ownership among women in the developing world. The partnership is between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the GSMA and Visa Inc.

The partnership will take place through the GSMA mWomen Programme Global Development Alliance and will enable women to effectively use mobile phones to access life-enhancing information, networks and services – such as banking, education and healthcare.

Studies by the GSMA have shown that a 10 percent increase in mobile phone use has led to a 1.2 percent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) in low- and middle-income countries. However, research shows that women in the developing world are 21 percent less likely than men to own a mobile phone.

Secretary Clinton noted at the launch of the GSMA mWomen Programme in October 2010 that, “investing in women’s progress is the most direct and effective way to invest in progress economically and socially globally.”

For 300 million women in low- and middle- income countries, mobile technology is still out of reach. “It’s not simply because it’s too expensive . . . but it’s because of an array of economic and social barriers, from a lack of literacy to a lack of income to the all-too-common belief that cell phones afford more freedom to women than they deserve,” said Secretary Clinton.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said that a wide range of social and economic benefits can be delivered by extending mobile phone ownership to women.

“Mobile phones can provide women living in remote and rural areas with access to bank accounts and formal credit,” said Mr. Rudd.

“In Pakistan, text messaging has been used to deliver basic literacy and numeracy classes. In India, texts have been used to provide agricultural commodity prices at markets, helping women to get the best prices for their produce.”

Today four out of five mobile phone connections are in the developing world. Through mobile technology, the public and private sectors are able to engage with individuals in new and innovative ways to achieve development objectives and drive economic growth.

The Global Development Alliance is a USAID mechanism bringing together the core competencies of the private and public sector. The GSMA mWomen Programme Global Development Alliance is being implemented by the GSMA, leveraging the expertise, distribution and resources of its global mobile industry membership, including the 31 mWomen Working Group members who have each committed their company to help reduce the mobile phone gender gap.

“Mobile technology is a necessity in today’s society, particularly in the developing world, where it provides an important lifeline for those who may not be connected through other means,” commented Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA. “Through public/private partnerships such as this, mobile operators and other key players in the industry are able to engage with individuals in new and impactful ways. By marshalling the combined resources of the mobile industry - our technology, communications and people - we can make a real difference in the lives of women around the world."

“An estimated 70% of the world’s unbanked and financially-underserved population are women,” said Joseph Saunders, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Visa Inc. “Around the world, we have begun to see the power that mobile technology can have in extending the reach of electronic payments, providing the unbanked with tools for payments and other life-enhancing financial services, and bringing new participants into the global financial system. We are proud to join this innovative public-private partnership to empower women at the base of the economic pyramid and improve their lives through mobile technology.”

Under this Global Development Alliance, the GSMA mWomen Programme will:

  • Shift mobile industry resources to reach underserved women and establish the women's market segment as a key opportunity for the mobile industry;
  • Catalyze the creation, launch and scaled distribution of life-enhancing mobile value-added services for underserved women;
  • Support underserved women's effective use and ability to engage with mobile technology; and
  • Provide access to mobile products and services to enable women’s leadership and empowerment.

Key activities include:

  • Providing human resource grants to mobile operators to implement commercially viable and socially responsible mWomen offerings;
  • Providing grants for NGOs to collaborate with mobile operators in designing activities that address the barriers to mobile phone usage among women, particularly technical literacy and traditional attitudes surrounding women’s ownership of mobile phones;
  • Conducting research into women’s wants and needs, including for mobile value added services, such as mobile payments; and
  • Sharing knowledge and catalyzing the replication of best practices throughout the mobile industry and development community.

In October 2010, Secretary Clinton and Mrs. Cherie Blair, together with the GSMA, launched the GSMA mWomen Programme, and in doing so highlighted how the global mobile operator community and international development communities can effectively work together.

For more information about the GSMA mWomen Programme, visit:

For more information about USAID, visit:
For more information about AusAID, visit:
For more information about Visa, visit:

USAID Press Office:  202-712-4320
USAID Public Information:   202-712-4810
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s office:   +61 2 6277 7500
GSMA Press Information: or Claire Cranton,, +44 7885839427
Visa Press:  415-932-2564,

PRN: 2011/2028