International Women's Day: Leveraging Mobile for Women's Empowerment and Equality

Who among us can live without our cell phones?

Each year on International Women's Day, the world comes together to celebrate women and advocate for gender equality. It's a message we feel is an important one to share, especially as moms. In our part of the world, reaching a level of equality means we are able to care for our children, while achieving great things at our jobs and work. And as professional, single moms, we are -- like all moms -- juggling many aspects of our lives throughout the day, and grateful to be able to accomplish all the things we do each day. But, if we're being honest, getting it done means relying mostly on our mobile phones.

Our phones are how we keep it all together and meet the needs of our kids throughout the day -- from multitasking during a meeting to schedule an emergency doctor's visit after a soccer practice goes awry, to finding the fastest route to a cello recital while finishing up a conference call, to paying the bills online while in a cab between meetings. The information we access through our phones, right in the palms of our hands, helps us track multiple tasks and responsibilities, enabling us to be better at them all. Our phones are so integral to our lives that it is hard to imagine life without them.

In addition to being moms, we are also passionate social activists who know the power of mobile phones to improve the health of vulnerable women and children globally. We also know the role that leveraging the mobile phone can play in promoting women's interests, specifically through access to information that can empower them and help level the playing field.

Living in the United States where internet and WI-FI access is all but ubiquitous, where email and text messaging are typical daily communications for most, we forget that it wasn't too long ago that we were using standard-feature phones that weren't app-enabled and couldn't easily access the internet. Before the internet, like our sisters in low- and middle-income countries, we relied on our village -- mothers, sisters, friends -- for information on all aspects of being a mother. But it wasn't in the palm of our hand, and it wasn't instant access to the best information and global best practices.

The good news is that many women are getting more and greater access to information, connecting to the internet through smart phones, leapfrogging the need for more traditional computers. Mobile phones and its associated technology can help women on the other side of the digital divide transition into active consumers in this age of information, that improves the health and well-being of themselves, and their families; and organizations like the Lopez Family Foundation and Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) can help them do that.

Through MAMA's timed and targeted information that is both relevant to their lives and critical to their health, that is sent directly to their cell phones, women become comfortable with the technology platform, better understand the empowering force they can provide and begin to participate in related services that improve their lives in other ways. Through the Lopez Family Foundation's promotion of Telemedicine, women, families and medical professionals in the most remote areas have access to the latest medical advancements.

Women have come a long way in developed and developing countries, but significant gaps remain. We believe that mobile technology will go a long way in helping us close those gaps, empowering women with information, services and ultimately, confidence, that will help them best care for themselves, their families and their communities.

Join us in our mission to bring gender equality to all by sharing your dream for women. Tweet using the hashtags #IWD (International Women's Day) #EWEC (Every Woman, Every Child) and #PictureIt, starting on International Women's Day, Sunday, March 8, 2015, and let us know your vision for women around the world.

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