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"Mobile Phones Put Women in Control"

Cherie's Letter to The Times, 26 November 2010

"It is so worrying that not just in India but in many other parts of the world, far fewer women than men have access to mobile phones".

Sir, I was angered but hardly surprised to read about the attempted ban by Indian village elders on the use of mobile phones by young women (“Don’t put your daughter on the phone: she may elope”, Nov 25). Across the world, mobiles are helping to give women greater opportunities which can be seen as a threat by those who want to continue restricting their freedom and rights.

But the impact of mobile phones goes far beyond giving women some choice of who they might marry. Increasingly, they provide information about healthcare and education as well as, crucially, being important for their personal safety and as a vital tool in helping women achieve financial independence by setting up businesses.

That is why it is so worrying that not just in India but in many other parts of the world, far fewer women than men have access to mobile phones. It is a technology gap that mWomen, an industry-backed initiative launched by Hillary Clinton and myself last month, aims to tackle. When studies show that 85 per cent of women believe mobiles increase their independence, it is easy to see why they are seen as a threat in conservative societies, such as Uttar Pradesh. The answer is to step up our efforts to demonstrate the benefits to communities of women having more control over their own lives. Cherie Blair

To view the article "Unmarried women banned from using mobiles in case they fall in love" on The Times online click here