Quick wins included a mobile for every girl, drawing from HIV apps to design ways to keep information private and secure regardless of who owns the phone, and panic buttons on mobiles to keep girls safe.
Longer term measures discussed included bringing tech and mobile companies on board to run advertising and marketing campaigns showing the benefits of girls being connected through mobile, and using online influencers to bring boys and girls together to overcome gendered barriers to access.
The most important approach however, and one to continue to work towards, is creating services around what users actually need, rather what we want them to need. This would involve truly listening to girls and co-creating with them, and forging new partnerships with funders and organisations on the ground based upon far greater levels of trust.
Lee Wells, head of health programmes at Vodafone Foundation, also pointed out that parents’ concern for how their children access technology is not confined to developing countries, irrespective of the differing cultural norms that might exist. What we know is that girls are accessing mobile in any number of ways and so it can be a critical tool to reach and empower girls. The key responsibility is to ensure we do so appropriately in different contexts around the globe so that we are working with parents rather than against them.