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                                 In this issue:

Alicia Keys and Blackberry launch scholarship for women in mobile computing
Debate: are mobile phones gender neutral?
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Gender and Mobile/Learning Newsletter
Volume 2, Issue 4

Scholarship Programme Seeks to Support Women in Mobile Computing


Renowned American singer Alicia Keys, along with BlackBerry, launched the BlackBerry Scholars programme to increase the representation and participation of women in mobile computing. Scholarship recipients will receive mentoring and job opportunities, in addition to tuition support to cover four years of undergraduate college or university education in the US related to STEM subjects.

BlackBerry points to figures that show 55% of its handset owners are women, and the company wants to give back and contribute to the development of more female leaders in this space.

To find out more, visit the Blackberry website.
Amplifying Literacy for Women in Afghanistan
 
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi presented at the 2nd UNESCO Mobile Learning Week in February 2013, and her work with the Afghan Institute of Learning continues to flourish. In this piece for the Huffington Post, she shares how the use of mobile helped amplify literacy gains for Afghani women, resulting in heightened proficiency in reading and writing in just a third of the time that their traditional programme without mobile takes. While cultural challenges to women’s ownership and use of mobile phones exist, people taking part in the programme are increasingly persuaded by the benefits. Bonus effects observed are the construction of networks among women who might not have ever connected without a mobile.

Read more.
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Nokia Life helps female entrepreneurs develop business skills

Nokia Life’s Business Women service, a mobile learning service for female entrepreneurs, has now been launched in Tanzania. The service is a partnership between the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, the ExxonMobile Foundation and Nokia, and is currently already available to women in Indonesia and Nigeria via the Nokia Life + platform.
 
The service is bilingual in English and Kiswahili, and provides custom developed content, catering to the specific needs of women who run their own businesses, allowing them to develop, build and apply new skills.
 
Users can access the Nokia Life + platform on their mobile phones to find content and information to help them start and grow their own businesses. The content includes information about how to work with traders, improve distribution channels, tap into valuable existing networks and how to attract and retain customers.
 
For more information, visit the Nokia website.

Mobile Learning for Rural Farming Women in Sri Lanka

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the Open University of Sri Lanka and Mobitel, a Sri Lankan mobile operator, have teamed up to promote mobile learning amongst women in farming communities in Sri Lanka. The partnership also includes ICT providers, the farming community and local banks. 

The project is part of the COL’s global project ‘Lifelong Learning for Farmers’, and focuses on financial services and management to improve women’s financial literacy. It continues on from Mobitel’s Liyasara project, which focuses on information delivery for women through mobile phone, as well as motivating female users. 
 
The first phase of the project will be working with 550 women from rural farming communities, and uses IVR mobile lessons, delivered through weekly modules. Each module has five lessons and an end-of-module assessment.
 
Read more.

Debate Circle:
Are mobile phones gender neutral?

No: Ronda Zelezny-Green
 
How is the use and access of mobiles by women different from that of men? The lack of women shown using mobiles in marketing material can send the message that mobile phones are not for them, which can widen the gender digital divide. However, Oxfam’s Pink Phone Project’s success has served to show that in some cases, ‘thinking pink’ may help promote women’s uptake, and defer men from taking phones away from women to use for themselves – although the danger here is to stereotype pink to denote services for women. Clearly, mobile phones are not gender neutral, and gender and mobile matters extend to more than just access.

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Yes: Wayan Vota
 
Mobile phones are not designed with any one gender in mind. A mobile phone manufacturer will want little variation between handsets in order to appeal to everyone – so most handsets look the same, and the user interface is as neutral as possible. However, no mobile phone stays neutral. Once purchased, mobiles can be customised. But, once purchased, mobile phones can reinforce existing power dynamics – including between genders. This is where the gender gap comes in – there are currently 300 million fewer female subscribers than male subscribers in low and middle-income countries, and women do not have the same level of access as men. The need for equal access and the usefulness of mobile devices to empower women and girls is not in question. What is being debated is that how “genderised” mobile phones are or can be, and what affect that might have on adoption.
 
Read more.
 
 
 

Girls’ Grammar School Goes Mobile
 
In 2012, Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School in Australia introduced a school-wide mobile learning initiative where new types of teaching and learning were created to benefit the school community. Check out the video how mobile learning can even be used to support sports!

Perspective: mobile can help bridge the gendered health divide
 
Patricia Mechael, writing for Forbes, considers the potential of mobiles to help uplift women in developing countries, focusing particularly on mHealth and MDGs 3 and 5. She refers to mHealth projects whose impact could be increased through more direct involvement during planning stages of the women the projects seek to help.

Additionally, Mechael’s piece illustrates that consensus continues to grow on the need for gendered approaches to the use of mobile for development, particularly increasing the involvement of men.

Read more.

Gender and Power Relations:  awareness raising through mobile in Namibia
 
A Namibian multimedia campaign aims to address gender and power relations through ICTs – which includes mobile phones. The ‘Join Us’ campaign is a national project across Namibia, which aims to create platforms for dialogues on gender and power relations, creating awareness of the need for equal participation of both boys and girls in society, and equality of opportunities.
 
In addition to more traditional forms of media such as print and broadcast, the campaign uses cell phones to disseminate these messages to advocate for gender equality, These include quizzes through mobile phone, and SMS competitions in order to generate interest amongst Namibians.
 
Read more.
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The next issue of the Gender & Mobile/Learning Newsletter is scheduled to be published in October 2013. We welcome your contributions!
This newsletter was created, compiled and edited by Ronda Zelezny-Green and Alexandra Tyers. 

Please bring any mistakes or omissions to the attention of the editor. Revisions will be addressed in the subsequent issue.

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