Oftentimes the inequalities experienced by women in Western, developed countries are reduced or discounted in comparison to the grave and life-threatening injustices so commonly suffered by those in developing nations. But the discrimination of women is not something that is to be placed on a scale according to severity or callousness. It is a sad reality that affects half of the world’s population and no person’s experience should be used to downplay another’s, all because someone, somewhere has it even worse.
The World Economic Forum currently predicts global gender equality will not be a reality until 2095. That’s four entire generations from now and in case anyone still needs proof of the existence of a gap between men and women in the West, one needn’t look further than the Mobile World Congress. The largest gathering for the mobile industry, organized by the GSMA, which takes place in Barcelona annually this year had a record-breaking 108,000 visitors attending from 208 countries.
Data indicating how many of those people are women is either not gathered or not publically published, however it doesn’t take longer than an hour-long stroll around the fair to realize how utterly outnumbered women are. Since last year, the GSMA places special emphasis on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and its commitment towards the cause especially in relation to the mobile industry. Providing access to connectivity for women and girls is acknowledged as mission-critical to international development. Unsurprisingly therefore, gender equality was on everybody’s agenda.
This attitude was reflected for instance, through the Women4Tech programme, which was introduced at the Mobile World Congress this year and focused on addressing and reducing the gender gap within the industry. Women4Tech featured four days of workshops, tours and talks related to the topics that shape gender diversity in the mobile industry today.
The GSMA also held an award ceremony to recognize the steps that operators or other mobile industry leaders have done in terms of hiring and promoting females in the workplace. During the awards, the GSMA also released report developed by A.T. Kearney, which found female participation in the telecommunications workforce typically ranges from 10 to 52 per cent amongst companies sampled and that in three-quarters of telecommunications companies surveyed, women accounted for less than 40 per cent of the workforce.
Additionally, the data indicates that globally women are 14% less likely to own a mobile phone than men. This in turn means that it’s not just the topic of women in the telecom industry that needs more recognition. The discussion must be broadened to include women as users of mobile technologies, especially those who are missing out on their benefits. Increased gender diversity and equality is one of the main ways we can strengthen the overall mobile ecosystem.
The mobile sector is a highly dynamic and ever-changing one, which depends on constant modernization and moving forwards. When it comes to gender equality things are not changing fast enough. There are not enough women working in the telecom industry, especially at in senior positions.
Research (http://www.gsma.com/gsmaeurope/gsma-europe-blog/mobile-world-congress-2017-addresses-benefits-gender-diversity-mobile-industry/) shows companies with a gender-diverse workforce are able to innovate more successfully and outperform their competitors. Meanwhile at first glance, the most of the women who work at the MWC are hostesses and waitresses who are more commonly selected based on their looks rather than their brains.
The success of the congress was undeniable - The MWC showcased how mobile technology is the force behind all emerging innovations: according to the slogan it is simply put, The Next Element. Attendees could discover everything from automated cars, virtual reality, and ingenious app ideas, to 3D printing capabilities and privacy protection. But as the telecommunications industry rapidly charges forwards in terms of technology, it is lagging far behind when it comes to gender inclusion and equality on a global scale.
Vision Communication has worked at the Mobile World Congress for the last 9 years, supporting top-level companies in event organization, communication strategies, content production and audio-visual coverage. This year we had the pleasure of working with several of these world-renowned companies on various projects throughout the four-day event including VISA, Ericsson, Telefónica, Genband and Brocade & Ruckus. Besides working with clients, Vision also made efforts to increase the company’s independent production, providing its followers with daily updates including one on the subject of gender equality (available for download below).
At Vision Communication, we believe in the power of mobile technology and its communication possibilities to achieve greater development in general and, in particular, in regards to gender equality. We look forwards to the 2018 edition, eagerly await further improvements, not just within the technological department and stand ready to aid in closing the gender gap through communication. Because at Vision we do #comm4action.
This platform is part of the Axis 1 “Strengthening the capacities of equality actors” of the Priority Solidarity Fund “Women for the future in the Mediterranean” funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women’s Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.