Name: Irene
Age: 15
Location: Temeke, Tanzania


Irene doesn’t own a phone but borrows one from her friend Grace a few times a week. She mainly uses it to call her boyfriend, but also her friends and relatives who live outside her city.

She says using the phone makes her ‘feel safe and free. If I don’t use a mobile I feel lonely. For example when I miss my boyfriend and I don’t have a mobile phone, I’m always down.’

Irene’s parents refuse to buy her a phone because they are worried it will compromise her safety. They say girls do not ‘understand themselves’ and can’t look after themselves the way boys can. Their biggest concern is that if Irene had a phone, this may lead her to boys and men, and then to sex. They don’t know she uses Grace’s phone to contact her boyfriend.

Irene herself says girls can be ‘silly’ when they get a phone, and thinks girls should use them responsibly.

Her 16-year-old brother Emmanuel has a basic phone he bought himself after saving up money earned working on a local building site. His parents don’t keep tabs on his whereabouts like they do Irene’s, so he’s free to use the phone as he likes.

Irene says if she could have her own phone, she’d use it to chat to friends, family and her boyfriend, and to watch movies and videos. She would also like to use it to help her with schoolwork although she’s not that clear on how a phone can do this.