The Digital Empowerment Foundation in association with the Vodafone Foundation earlier this year had announced the Empowering Women through Mobile 2011-12 report. Here are a few highlights about the female mobile subscribers in India that would be of relevance to the Indian startup ecosystem:
From 2009 to 2011-12, there has been a steady rise in the number of mobile phones owned by both men and women. There are now 225 million women today in India owning mobile phones paying way for some interesting consumer engagements using mobile phones. The medium is definitely moving away from being an exclusively male dominated medium.
The study clearly shows that the highest number of mobile using women come from the higher income group. This might come as good news to ecommerce companies especially companies that are looking to break into the mcommerce market as well. Although, the number of women using mobiles is much lower in the lower income group, the 25 million that own mobile phones can be targeted by development organizations and social enterprises using ICT for development like Classle, mPaani and others. These companies target the mobile phone owners. There are also 37 million women who come under mobile coverage even without owning mobile phones. This group is still within the reach of ICT programs run by companies like Dimagi, E Health Point, G.V.Meditech etc that do not require women to own a mobile phone to impact their lives.
It may be an obvious fact that there is higher number of mobile owners among women in the urban areas than in the rural parts of India. Yet, women in rural areas have increasingly getting exposed to mobile technology for different government/non-governmental programs targeted for women in the rural parts of the country.
For more insights on women and mobile phone usage, take a look at the entire report.