Vodafone India has started an innovative free service called the “Vodafone Sakhi Pack” that lets women recharge their mobile phones, without sharing their mobile numbers with the retailers. The objective of developing such an app is to encourage more and more women living in the rural areas of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh West to allay their fears of sharing their contact details at recharge outlets.

Vodafone told Financial Express that women users consist of half the total population in UP and Uttarakhand but less than 20 per cent of them have a mobile number in their name. This move would enable more and more women to use mobile phones for basic communication needs. The largest telecom company also aims to reduce the digital divide between men and women by helping women come to the forefront of the digital revolution sweeping the country.

Female subscribers of the telecom company, wanting to use the facility, can send an SMS (toll free)  – ‘Private’ – to 12604 – to receive a Vodafone Private Recharge option. The users will then receive an OTP code to complete the transaction.

‘Vodafone Sakhi’ will help bridge the telecom needs of women in rural areas and addresses their barriers to access mobile services at will.”- Dilip Kumar Ganta

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The women availing the facility of this pack will be required to pay Rs 52. The Rs 52 plan offers a talk time of Rs 42 along with 50 MB 2G/3G data for 30 days. The other packs include Rs 78 and Rs 99 pack which offers talk time of Rs 62 and Rs 79 respectively, along with 50 MB 2G/3G data for 30 days, ET Telecom reported.

Dilip Kumar Ganta, Business Head of Vodafone in UP (West) and Uttarakhand, said, “As a part of our constant endeavour to work towards the customer needs, we believe safety and privacy are very important. With the world going digital and smart phones becoming the primary data storage device, security of personal information has become a key concern for people. ‘Vodafone Sakhi’ will help bridge the telecom needs of women in rural areas and addresses their barriers to access mobile services at will.”

Commenting on the Vodafone Sakhi Initiative, Rekha Arya, Minister of Women’s Welfare and Child Development said,

“We are very optimistic about the step Vodafone has taken for women’s security. We will provide the required support to make this initiative a success.”

It is heartening to see telecom companies developing some strong strategies to address this gender gap between men and women that thwart women from making the best use of phones and their services.

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