Mobile Phones and Gender Dynamics

Melissa Ulbricht at has posted an article arguing that mobile phone sales to women have the potential to upset existing gender dynamics, with the possibility of an increase domestic violence towards women.

The evidence that this is happening is sketchy at best, but the article identifies some ways that mobile phone technology has the potential to impact gender relations throughout the world.

Shikoh Gitau shares an anecdote about the mobile chat app MixIt:

“MixIt has such a bad name in South Africa,” Gitau said. “Men say, if you use MixIt, you are going to go away with another man. Or you are going to run away.” One woman Gitau met was forbidden to use her phone to access the Internet. “That’s how bad it is.” The woman told Gitau her story saying “Yes, he has stopped me from using the Internet, but he does not know this is where we can get jobs.” Though she is aware of getting jobs via mobile, she respects her husband, so she doesn’t use the Internet. Gitau returned a few months later and asked the same woman if she had used the Internet on her phone. The woman said, “Of course I used the Internet.” But what about your husband, Gitau asked her? “He does not know what is good for us,” the woman said. – Mobiles for Women, Part Two: The Darker Side

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