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Clinton, Blair Address Gender Gap in Mobile Technology

Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010, during the launch of the

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former British first lady Cherie Blair have announced a new initiative to help women in developing countries get mobile phones.

The two women launched the initiative, called "mWomen", in Washington Thursday. They both noted that research shows that in developing countries, 300 million more men own cell phones than women.

Clinton called the mobile technology industry a "critical partner" in the initiative, which aims to provide mobile phones to 150 million women around the world. She noted that mobile phones are used to help coordinate disaster relief, access health care, and report violence.

Blair said gender discrimination sometimes prevents women from having phones. She said in addition to providing help with cost and technical skills, the initiative will help educate men about why women should have mobile phones.

The mWomen program says its research shows that the gender gap in phone ownership is widest in South Asia, but also exists in Africa and the Middle East.