Gender and Cell Phones
In the U.S., cell phones have become a huge part of our lives - to such an extent that we forget that this form of technology is not as prevalent in other parts of the world, for minority groups or for the underprivileged.
Village Council in India Bans Cell Phones for Women
Earlier this month, the village council of Sunderbari Village in Bihar, India, banned the use of cell phones by women. The council apparently enacted the ban in response to an increase in the number of elopements by young women. The council believed that cell phones were being used to arrange elopements and explained that elopements were "embarrassing" for the community. The measure will be enforced by a fine.
Opponents of the ban argue that women need access to cell phones for safety purposes and in case of an emergency.
An initiative launched in 2010 called mWomen would agree with these opponents, adding that cell phone technology can make it easier for women, especially underprivileged women and those in developing countries, to become employed and to excel in their professions. mWomen is seeking to address what it calls the "mobile phone gender gap."
Even in developed nations, this gender gap still exists, according to the 2006 study "Families in a high tech age" by Noelle Chesley. Chesley discovered that the occupational differences in the lives of women versus those in the lives of men shape how each gender uses technology.
The study also mentions that some feminists believe that, because new technologies are largely designed by men for use by men, the female market is, to some extent, alienated from using new cell phone technology. However, the study also says that mothers have taken to using cell phones as a form of "remote parenting" and to better manage household tasks.
What To Do?
You can help women have better access to mobile devices by donating used phones to local battered women's shelters. Also, visit mWomen.org/research for studies and information related to women and mobile technology.