New Delhi: In India, just 29 percent of women are economically active compared with over 80 percent of men, the Vodafone Connected Women Report 2014 stated here Thursday. The report, done by Vodafone Group, was supported by the Vodafone Foundation in collaboration with Oxford University’s Said Business School and Accenture Sustainability Services, and was released here by Cherie Blair, founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. ”Globally, it is said if you develop a woman that has a major positive impact on the society. In Vodafone, we want to contribute to the society beyond our business,” Marten Pieters, managing director and chief executive officer, Vodafone India said. The report focusses on the impact and potential of mobile technology in various facets of the lives of women around the world. ”With gender disparity in itself being a big social challenge in India, the number of women owning mobile phone is considerably lesser than the men.
This gap not only affects women’s ability to communicate, but it also presents a lost opportunity in terms of health, education, work, safety and inclusion,” he said. ”Women with right support can bring change in the economy,” Blair said. ”I have been overwhelmed by the success of the RUDI Sandesha Vyavhar (RSV) project in Gujarat in partnership with the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and the Vodafone Foundation in India. Many of the women have been able to increase their income significantly, in some cases by as much as four times. With higher profits, they have been able to send their children to school and afford healthcare,” she said. The Rural Distribution Network or RUDI is an initiative established by the SEWA reaches to 1.1 million households and provides income for 3,000 women.
The women in RUDI now use RSV platform to submit their orders via SMS on a basic phone. The system also enable women in RUDI organisation to track and manage stock levels in real time and it has been piloted with over 1,500 women. These women in RUDI were able to increase their income by up to 300 percent. The system was developed through a collaboration between SEWA, the Vodafone Foundation in India and tHe Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. Since the programme started in 2012, it has been piloted with over 1,500 women. In 2014, the solution is being rolled out to more districts of Gujarat and Rajasthan with the aim of reaching out to 4,500 direct beneficiaries in total by 2016 and potentially thousands more as families and communities benefit from the success of the businesses.