July 12, 2011
Afghan Women Tolerate Beating for Cell Phones in Emerging Market
Maryam’s husband was so outraged when he discovered the device she had smuggled into their Kabul home that he beat her with his fists and a whip. The contraband was a cell phone. Business Week reports.
For women in emerging markets, cell phones can be life changing, offering banking services to free them from the dangers of carrying cash, texting when the communal water tap will open or sending instructions in prenatal care.
... The U.S. is helping fund MWomen to bring women’s handset use on par with men’s and change “the all-too-common belief that cell phones afford more freedom to women than they deserve,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at an Oct. 7 press conference.
Companies have made inroads. Afghanistan’s biggest wireless provider, Telecom Development Company Afghanistan Ltd., started a campaign called Aali for Mother (Aali means “the best”) with ads portraying men as gift bearers and the phones as tools that benefit the family. After the ads appeared, women grew to 23 percent from 18 percent of all new customers, according to the company, which operates under the name Roshan.
In Qatar, where it’s often taboo for females to interact with strangers of the opposite sex, Vodafone created Al Johara so women could sign up for service without having to enter stores. It’s an all-female sales force that does business in living rooms and kitchens, carrying paperwork in red suitcases.
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