In Egypt, total mobile subscriptions have jumped from nearly 13 million in 2005 to over 80 million last year, according to a recent World Bank study. In the whole of Africa, there were nearly 650 million mobile subscriptions in early 2012, more than in the United States or the European Union, making the continent the second fastest growing region in the world, after South Asia.
It is this explosive growth in mobile usage that initiatives like HarassMap are tapping into in order to change behaviors. Chiao, who set up the group after experiencing sexual harassment herself in Egypt, says that HarassMap is also using mobile technology to provide victims with details of how to access free support services.
"A lot of the women's NGOs in Egypt offer services like free legal help, how to make a police report, psychological counseling, self-defense classes," explains Chiao. "So we took this opportunity to send an outgoing message to everyone who sends a report, telling them how to access these services."