The Conectadas project in Guatemala: Empowering women and girls through mobile technology
Latin America and the Caribbean
Access, Digital literacy, E-learning, Entrepreneurship, Skills development, Women
Career counselling and professional development, Non-formal education and extracurricular contexts
According to GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020, in low- and middle-income countries, 1.2 billion women now own a smartphone, and female smartphone ownership has grown from 44% to 55% since 2017. However, women in these contexts are still 20 percent less likely than men to own a smartphone, a considerably wider gender gap than for mobile ownership overall.
Affordability, literacy and digital skills, a perceived lack of relevance, and safety and security concerns are the most important barriers to mobile ownership and mobile internet use for women.
To address low levels of basic digital literacy, the GSMA Connected Society programme developed the Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit (MISTT). MISTT is a dynamic, visual and easy-to-use curriculum that demonstrates the internet’s functionality and value of internet-enabled mobile phones. Since the roll out of MISTT, GSMA and partners have reached more than 600,000 women worldwide.
Tigo Guatemala joined GSMA’s Connected Women Commitment Initiative to decrease the digital gender gap by aiming to increase the proportion of women in their mobile internet customer base in Guatemala from 46% to 50% by 2020. Tigo Guatemala partnered with SHEVA, an organization dedicated to teaching girls and women how to use the internet and mobile tools, to launch the Conectadas project.
With inspiration from GSMA’s MISTT, the Conectadas project aims to empower Guatemalan girls and women with the skills and knowledge to use mobile technology. Conectadas has three focus areas: entrepreneurship, education and personal growth. It targets economically active women aged 15 to 40.
Half of the smartphone owners in Guatemala only use their devices for phone calls and text messages. Conectadas provides women face-to-face trainings as well as access to an educative platform so they can learn how to use and benefit from mobile technology, access information and use life-enhancing tools. These trainings enhance women’s digital skills so they can use their phones beyond texting and calling.
Tigo Guatemala and SHEVA have trained more than 40,000 women with internet skills. This enabled the women to learn about tools such as Google, Facebook and WhatsApp through concise, engaging online lessons.
Tigo Guatemala measured the data consumption of women who were Tigo users and compared this to a control group with similar characteristics. Over a 24-month period, and with a sample size of 14,390 women, Tigo Guatemala found that the mobile data consumption of women who had been trained increased by 19%, compared to an increase of just 7% for the control group.
Before providing access to EduMe’s Workforce Success, the educative online platform used to digitalize the content of Conectadas, Tigo Guatemala and SHEVA were delivering training across Guatemala through a series of face-to-face workshops only. These trainings demonstrated that participants needed an easy way to access the knowledge and information both in between and after the workshops, to better understand the tools and put the skills they learned into practice.
At the start of the project, women tended to underestimate the importance of education and technology, and often reported low levels of self-esteem for both. However, at the end of the trainings, the desire to continue schooling and consider a wider variety of job opportunities increased.
Women have shared their knowledge on mobile internet usage with their families and friends.
Programs aimed at training women on how to use mobile technology empowers women and is particularly helpful to first time smartphone users.
EQUALS Global Partnership. 2019. I’d blush if I could: Closing gender divides in digital skills through education. Paris: UNESCO.
GSMA. 2020. Connected Women: Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020. London: GSMA.