mHealth Alliance issues mobile healthcare 'Gender Analytical' framework

To empower women and improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) in low-income countries, the mHealth Alliance has released a Gender Analytical Framework to help mobile healthcare implementers better understand the implications of gender issues for their mHealth projects, according to an announcement from the organization.

The mHealth Alliance framework provides "an outline through which to understand the nuances of gender issues, as well as gaps related to gender," states the press release. The framework is based on insights from VillageReach, an mHealth Alliance grant recipient, which works to improve access to quality healthcare for underserved communities around the world through the organization's mHealth projects.

"Having experienced first-hand the challenges associated with taking gender into account when designing mHealth programs, such as our toll-free maternal health hotline in Malawi, we were keenly aware of the need for global learning on this topic," said Emily Bancroft, Program Director of VillageReach's Health Systems Group, in a written statement. "The gender framework provides a concrete and powerful tool to help us analyze the implications of gender on our mHealth projects, and strengthen the design and implementation accordingly."

According to the mHealth Alliance, research shows that many women's health problems in low-income countries, such as maternal mortality and unintended pregnancies, are directly linked to gender inequity. In addition, while women are commonly the beneficiaries of mHealth projects, the organization argues that women are rarely equal participants in the development of mHealth interventions.

Moreover, while the digital divide continues to shrink, the mHealth Alliance argues that women in low-income countries do not have equal participation in this technological advancement. For instance, the organization cites the fact that a woman living in a low-income country is 21 percent less likely to own a cell phone than a man.

In 2010, the UN Foundation and several partners committed $400 million toward making childbirth safer, vaccinating children, reducing infant mortality and combating malaria, with mHealth. The foundation also launched the Maternal and Newborn mHealth Initiative to develop and deploy mHealth technologies to address problems related to maternal health in developing countries.

To learn more:
-read the announcement