Web Summit, the biggest annual tech conference, kicked off in Lisbon with a focus on disruptive innovation around the world. Jonathan McKay, our head of product, joined an expert panel discussion on the Future Societies Stage to discuss the gender data divide and the power of technology to drive change in the world.

As millions of people access mobile and internet for the first time, there is an unprecedented opportunity to connect them to the information and services they need to thrive. Realising the potential of internet access is no easy feat, especially in developing economies. Jonathan was joined by Sebastien Codeville from KaiOS Technologies, one of our partners, and Maya Horgan Famodu from Ingressive Capital. The speakers discussed how each organisation is using pioneering mobile technology to drive social change.

Exploring how technology can help to close the gender divide, Jonathan made the case for girls being key to changing the world, and for the need to reach girls with the right content to help them change their lives. He argued that as more young women and girls are coming online, we need to be ready to design services and products for girls that meet their needs. Without the data, we can’t be sure what these unique needs are, which is why the first step should be to listen to girls.

Sebastien added that on the issue of global internet connectivity, the reality is not always a problem with infrastructure, but rather the cost of the device and of the data. KaiOS Technologies is dedicated to tackling this by offering a light operating system for smart feature phones, a new category of affordable devices that enables access to apps, offers 3G/4G LTE, Wi-Fi, GPS and other advanced functionalities. We partnered with KaiOS Technologies in 2019 to ensure that more adolescent girls have access to content that is made to help improve their lives. This content is available to KaiOS-enabled phones through Springster, our mobile-first global brand that builds knowledge, inspires girls and supports them to create positive change in their lives.

Here at Girl Effect, we will continue our work with partners like KaiOS Technologies and Vodafone Foundation to address the gender divide in the digital world. You can find out more about how we are working towards this goal and watch the video below for a lively discussion on closing the gender data divide with technology.

Girl Effect at Web Summit 2019