The simple technology that helps women escape poverty


A formal identity and a mobile phone are two essential weapons in the global fight against poverty.

More women than men are poor, more women live in food insecurity and, in the majority of countries in the world, more women than men perform unpaid family work.

This is why many scholars and world leaders such as former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan argue that empowering women is the most effective way to better humanity. For many women, empowerment begins with identity – a prerequisite for accessing services and exercising their rights. In 2019, the World Bank estimated that one in two women in low-income economies did not have a national identity card or something similar.

As an essential first step in empowering women, the World Bank has worked with more than 40 countries to develop digital ID systems to empower women. In Pakistan, for example, millions of women now have computerized national identity cards (CNICs) that allow them, rather than their husbands or brothers, to access government income support programs.

Armed with a formal identity, existing and emerging technologies are readily available for women’s economic empowerment.

First, cell phones are ubiquitous and can be useful. Of 456 million unique subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020, 239 million users have mobile internet access and 180 million have smartphones.

Widely available mobile phones have prompted companies to develop mobile financial services such as Safaricom’s M-Pesa and M-Kesho in Kenya, as well as Ant financial services in China. Not only are these services safe and convenient, but they also enable unbanked women to access financial services such as savings and loans.

Besides access to financial services, mobile platform applications can help poor women find employment. In China, when many restaurant workers (mostly women) were out of work during the COVID-19 shutdowns, Alibaba created an online platform with restaurant chains such as Xibei and Yunhaiyao to develop a recovery plan. sharing employees online so that more than 3,000 restaurant workers can find temporary work during the pandemic.

And similarly, social nudge has been found to encourage people to achieve their fitness goals. The use of internet-connected wearable devices and mobile apps can induce different forms of nudge to encourage girls to complete their education.

Beyond mobile technology, blockchain can also help improve gender equality and financially empower women. Denver’s Coda Coffee has partnered with bext360 to develop a blockchain that integrates machine vision, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence to track coffee beans at every stage: collection, washing, drying, grinding, exporting, and roasting. grains through retail operations. This helps ensure that farmers of all genders can receive fair payments and that traders use the information as verifiable collateral for loan applications. Widely available solar technology can also change women’s fortunes. In 2020, more than 3 billion off-grid households depend on women to collect firewood to meet their energy needs. This burden deprives women of access to education or employment. But solar cookers have enabled women in rural areas of Nicaragua to produce and sell baked goods, candies and roasted coffee beans.

Coca-Cola has meanwhile launched the 5by20 initiative to empower 5 million women by 2020. One of the initiatives in India involves the development of a solar-powered ‘eKOCool’ cooler that can enable a woman owner a store to sell frozen drinks, operate at night (by charging its solar lanterns) and offer a mobile phone charging service by tapping into the charging ports provided by eKOcool coolers. Earlier gains in poverty reduction have been undermined by the pandemic, with women faring worse. Leveraging emerging technologies to economically empower women enables them to find jobs, earn fair wages, improve the operational efficiency of their micro-enterprises, improve their physical safety, and improve their access to education and financial services.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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