By Marily Mondejar, CEO, Filipina Women’s Network
America is on the verge of an unprecedented improvement in how we live and work and the Filipina women community of business owners and professionals are impacted. In cities across the U.S., a new, superfast mobile Internet experience called 5G is taking hold and the implications are eye-opening.
An LA Times headline this year called 5G “the next revolution in global communications.” CNN reports that, with speeds up to 100 times faster than today’s wireless, 5G will spur the growth of driverless cars and precision agriculture that produces more crops with fewer resources. What does this “revolution” mean to the Filipina women community? Is it affordable? Does it require new and expensive gadgets to upgrade current systems in place? Is 5G accessible to marginalized communities such as the Filipina women community served by nonprofit organizations like the Filipina Women’s Network?
As impressive as these improvements are, the potential for 5G technology to help empower women in our community and beyond does not get sufficient attention. With its high speeds and instant reactions, 5G not only improves broadband access crucial for businesses, it also improves our ability to address needs in our social, home, and work life. Will the 5G improve response to domestic and intimate partner violence calls to 911 and social services organizations?
Take business growth. There are more than 12 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. and since 2007, the number of women-owned businesses has increased nearly 60%. What actions are in place to tap this demographic?
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women deserve a special shout-out for leading the way. Women-owned businesses from those communities have grown a remarkable 146% since 2007. Among Asian Americans as a whole, women-owned businesses grew more than 100% in that time.
The upshot for the Filipino community – indeed for all Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, especially women – is clear. There is an extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit that runs through our community. About 33% of Filipino households are multigenerational, yet large numbers of Filipino women are almost certainly kept out of the workforce; our cultural affinity for strong familial ties can result in women disproportionately devoting time to child and elder care, and the other responsibilities in their communities.
If 5G can spur advances such as driverless cars, it has the potential to unleash a whole new wave of women into the workforce who will have more to start their own businesses. Physical mobility is foundational to economic and social mobility – 5G technologies can help Filipino women access these benefits at rates never before seen.
Advances stemming from 5G wireless systems will ripple through our community in other ways. Instant mobile connections will usher in new ways to improve educational status. That includes everything from facilitating GEDs (almost 1 in 4 Filipinos and nearly 30% of Asian Americans do not have a high school diploma) to making higher education more affordable. With the growth of online educational opportunities, real-time classroom instruction is suddenly much more accessible.
The 5G Internet will lift burdens on women, especially caregivers, in other ways. By one estimate, 5G will support a nearly 1,000% increase in the number of connected devices per square kilometer. Combined with faster speeds and reaction times, this will unleash advances in home-based medical care. The result should ease the need for doctor visits by those suffering from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and neurological issues. The advent of remote monitoring can also help reduce dependence on family members to accompany them and foster a greater sense of independence among the elderly.
Female empowerment is one of society’s most important ongoing trends, especially female economic empowerment. The rapidly approaching appearance of a lightning fast mobile Internet could not come at a better time. We can’t wait to experience the effects of 5G that could mean many lives saved because of improved response to intimate partner violence among women and girls.