Mobile Technologies and Empowerment: Enhancing human development through participation and innovation
The simplicity of new mobile platforms requiring only a basic mobile phone with SMS capacity has allowed their adoption all over the world — from South Africa, to India, to Mexico — to monitor elections, track violence and crime, provide logistical support in natural disasters, and oversee inventories. The portability and ubiquity of mobile phones have helped them become an important tool for civil society, enabling local mobilization and networking among geographically dispersed people.
Mobiles also offer greater independence for women by opening new channels of information and affording greater personal privacy. They can also offer women greater security, not only as emergency tools, but also to report and monitor violence against women. And where once women may have needed male relatives to act as intermediaries, mobile platforms now provide them the chance to make decisions for their economic wellbeing by and for themselves, which in turn can facilitate female entrepreneurship.
By themselves, mobile phones will neither pull people out of poverty, nor propel democratic governance. Instead they are catalytic tools for enhancing and broadening development programming if deployed strategically. They open new channels for connecting the poor to services, new ways for citizens to have their voices heard, and new opportunities for civic engagement in larger governance processes.
This primer covers the topics outlined below:
Early Evidence of the Impact of Mobile Technologies on Developing Countries
Mobile Technologie and Democratic Governance
Mobile Technologies and Human Development
Challenges and Opportunities in Using Mobile Technologies for Development