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Digital Identity Opportunities for Women: Insights from Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Rwanda


A new GSMA report explores the role of mobile technology in addressing the gender-based identity gap

Mobile technology has the potential to transform the identity landscape and support scaled digital solutions for the one billion people who currently have no official proof of ID. The majority of those without ID are women, and this report from GSMA explores the ways in which mobile is uniquely placed to help tackle the gender-based ID gap by widening access to digital ID products and services.

During end-user research in Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Rwanda, GSMA spoke to more than 300 people, including industry experts, the private sector, and the international development community. All of the three countries studied are in the process of rolling out national identity documents, each at varying levels of progress.

Researchers explored women’s views on digital identity services and the potential impact of mobile technology in widening access, with the report focusing on: "the specific incentives, challenges, preferences and benefits that women and girls will encounter, compared to men, when engaging with digital identity systems or services."

Women were found to be particularly supportive of mobile agent national identity document enrollment, given the logistical difficulty of enrolling while managing household and childcare responsibilities.

Mobile financial ID was explored as a route to improving the financial inclusion of those without ID, a large proportion of whom are women. And mobile work ID was considered as a way to demonstrate credibility and skills to employers, allowing workers to grow their businesses.

Finally, mobile health ID appealed to women in all three countries studied. Because women are often responsible for ensuring the health and wellbeing of family members, mobile health ID has the potential to improve access to and navigation of health systems.

In addition to supporting Sustainable Development Goal 5, GSMA also notes the potential benefits that gender equality offers for the mobile industry itself:

"If mobile operators could close these gender gaps in low- and middle-income countries by 2023, this would provide an estimated additional $140 billion in revenue to the mobile industry over the next five years."