When I think about why it’s so important to get more mobile phones in the hands of women, I think about Nikmah, a woman I met in Indonesia last October. Nikmah told me she’d tried for years to support her three children by selling vegetables, but she never could seem to make ends meet. Her situation became even more untenable after she had to flee an abusive husband.
Today, Nikmah is one of more than a million Indonesians making a living through Go-Jek, a popular mobile platform for rides, food deliveries, and other services. The app connects her to a steady stream of customers and income, and she is paid through a mobile bank account, so she has total control over the money she earns. She can now afford to provide for her children without having to depend on a man who mistreats her. And through her phone, she’s formed a network with other women service providers, who pool their savings to support each other through accidents or health emergencies.
Nikmah told me, “Life is like a wheel. Sometimes you’re under, sometimes you’re on top.” For women like her who have spent so much of their lives trapped on the bottom, mobile technology creates new opportunities to fight inequity and lift themselves up. We can help women seize these opportunities by ensuring that inequity doesn’t keep them from having access to technology in the first place.
Read more in our 2019 Annual Letter at gatesletter.com