One of the recommendations at the Commonwealth Women’s Forum at the just concluded CHOGM meeting in Kigali emphasised the need to collect regular and disaggregated data to identify gaps and mark progress achieved. It was stressed that this must be in all spheres that inhabit women and girls, from ending gender-based violence and leadership to economic empowerment and the digital economy. It is easy to see why data is important. Good data and statistical information not only aid in policy-making but in decision making pointing out where investment is most needed and engaging all the players from the community level to the national and international levels. As often happens, however, data from one sector helps illuminate a host of interconnected issues. So it was with the Mobile Gender Gap Report 2022 that was coincidentally released earlier this month just before CHOGM Kigali. The report, by the global association unifying mobile telephony and ecosystems (GSMA), considers how women’s mobile access and use is changing in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) — many of them members of the Commonwealth — and how efforts to reach women with mobile should be targeted. It is not a coincidence that many of the issues discussed in the Commonwealth Women’s Forum also feature in the GSMA analysis. It is that the issues remain uniform even as progress has been made. Focusing on the mobile phone, therefore, it takes note of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic recovery, and how to ensure that gains in gender equality are not lost and that existing inequalities do not get worse. Te analysis notes how, over the past two years, the pandemic has reinforced the importance of access to mobile and mobile internet. Mobile phones have enabled people to mitigate some of the negative impacts of the pandemic by providing ongoing access to information, health care, education, e-commerce, financial services and income-generating opportunities. Yet, the pandemic has also highlighted the stark digital divide, and those without access to mobile phones and mobile internet are at risk of being left even further behind. There is good news, however. Looking at both genders, the mobile phone is the primary way men and women access the internet in LMICs, accounting for 85 per cent of broadband connections in 2021. Once women own a smartphone, the report finds, their awareness and use of mobile internet is almost on par with men. For women, however, the phones are valued as life-enhancing tools that make them feel more autonomous, connected and safe. Mobile also provides access to important information that helps them in their daily lives and that they would not have received otherwise. Eighty-four per cent of women in LMICs now own a mobile phone and 60 per cent use mobile internet. This last finding predicates how mobile ownership and use remain unequal. Across LMICs, women are still less likely than men to have access to mobile phones and use mobile internet, mobile money and other mobile services. This is particularly true for women who are the most underserved, including those with low literacy, low incomes, who live in a rural areas or have a disability. Analysis shows that even when women have the same levels of education, income, literacy and employment as men, they are still less likely to own a mobile phone or use mobile internet. Even so, among those who are aware of mobile internet, the top-reported barriers to mobile internet use are still literacy and digital skills, affordability (primarily of handsets) and safety and security. Among low-income groups, there is evidence that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has made handsets and mobile internet even less affordable and affected access to smartphones and mobile internet use. Social norms also continue to play an important role. Across the survey countries, women were less likely than men to have chosen their model of mobile phone even when they paid for it themselves. What these findings show is that if the mobile gender gap would be closed, much would be achieved adding to the advances already made in gender equality and women’s empowerment. This is entirely possible, as may be seen in the Connect Rwanda Initiative to put a mobile phone in the hands of women and other marginalised groups. But it requires a concerted effort, including actualising commitments agreed upon at the Commonwealth Women’s Forum. Then, as envisaged at the forum, economic and social change where women, particularly in tech and innovation, will be the game-changer may soon become a reality.