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Roti, kapda, makaan -- and broadband -- for women

Feb 22 2014: Our title(Hindi) means "Food, clothing, shelter -- and broadband", a catch phrase in India. But how far have we -- specifically women--  gone down that road?
Wireless solutions leader Qualcomm has just published research report entitled “Transforming Women’s Livelihoods Through Mobile Broadband, through its Wireless Reach initiative, Vital Wave  and the GSMA’s Mobile for Development mWomen Programme.

The report evaluates an untapped opportunity for the mobile industry to convert approximately 800 million women to smartphone ownership and mobile broadband usage.The report focusses on the unprecedented opportunities that mobile broadband can provide to women across all socioeconomic classes, with a focus on women in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria.
We bring you a summary of key findings from India:

India is the second largest market for mobile broadband devices in the developing world. However, only 30% of the working women interviewed in this study own smartphones, fewer than any of the other countries surveyed. Relative to women in other countries, working women in India appear to use older technologies: 57% report that they purchased a mobile phone more than two years ago. Despite these numbers, womenowning feature phones show strong interest in acquiring mobile broadband. 64% of feature phone ownersplan to purchase a smartphone in the next 6-24 months, making India a particularly fertile marketplace forsmartphone adoption.
Mobile Broadband Under Utilized:
Overall, 79% of the women surveyed in India use a mobile phone for work-related reasons and view their mobile phones as somewhat or very important for their work. Among smartphone owners, the numbers areeven higher: 86% currently use a mobile phone for work-related tasks. However, among smartphone owners,almost a third report that they have yet to use the Internet functionality on their phones. While clearlyattracted to the capabilities of a smartphone, most smartphone owners continue to access the Internet onfixed-line devices in addition to, or instead of, their phones. For example, 64% of Indian women who own asmartphone report accessing the Internet on their home computers, while another 23% report that they stilldo not regularly access the Internet from any device, fixed-line or mobile.
Women Value Connectivity and New Opportunities
Women in India face two significant work challenges: The inconsistency of their work and the tension ofmanaging household responsibilities while working. Mobile broadband offers significant value in addressing these needs and challenges. For example, mobile broadband provides working women with more ways toremain in contact with family members while at work. Email, free texting applications, and social media areespecially popular among Indian women who own smartphones. In addition, 39% of smartphone owners usetheir phone to access health information or other health-related applications, allowing them to balance workwith family responsibilities. Mobile broadband also helps Indian women manage job insecurity by providingthem with real-time access to potential job opportunities or new sources of income. Similarly, business owners
report using mobile broadband to post job openings and find new employees.
Lack of Information and Cost Inhibit Smartphone Adoption
Among feature phones owners, 36% report they have no plans to buy a smartphone. These women viewsmartphones as either too complicated (44%) or too expensive (39%). However, many women indicate theywould be more inclined to purchase a smartphone if they received lessons on how to use it.

You can find the full India-specific findings here: