Abstract: Mobile Phones and Women’s Empowerment

Hello, my name is Catie Crowley and this summer I will be working on a project in Tanzania that seeks to assess how mobile phones impact women’s empowerment. This project is overseen by William and Mary’s Philip Roessler and Daniel Nielsen of BYU, and is implemented through a partnership with Tanzanian research institute, REPOA.

The mobile phone revolution is one of the most important technological advances of the last 25 years. Mobile phones provide low cost access to information, communication and services like online banking. Although mobile phones are widespread and have been adopted for development initiatives, there are few randomized controlled trials that evaluate the effects of mobile phone ownership. This is especially pertinent as women in low and medium income countries face a gender gap in mobile phone ownership that hinders women’s access to their developmental benefits. We will implement one of the first randomized controlled trials in this field focusing on women in Tanzania, who are significantly less likely to own mobile phones than men. Our research seeks to understand the consequences of this gender gap and how mobile phones in the hands of women can advance development goals and empower women.

This summer we will be implementing phase II of this project, involving a control group of 200 women, a test group of 100 women to receive mobile phones, and a test group of 100 women to receive $23 in cash. The treatment period is to last approximately 6 months, with women surveyed at baseline and endline on six main indicators for empowerment: social connectedness, economic independence, health care access, public participation, personal security and individual agency.

I am really grateful for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to working on this project this summer!