Mobiles, intimacy, gendered access and safety [Starter Activity]


This is an introductory discussion about the ways that participants are using their mobile devices. Facilitators can use this exercise to introduce concepts about gendered access, to highlight how we manifest many of our identities in this mobile space and how this presents unique possibilities and risks for participants.

We recommend doing this at the start of a workshop about mobile safety.

This activity has 3 stages:

  • Pair share
  • Pair Reportback
  • Facilitator Synthesis of common elements

Learning objectives this activity responds to

  • an understanding of how mobile access and communications are gendered and intimate;

Who is this activity for?

This can work for anyone who uses a mobile phone or has used one.

Time required

This activity will require about 30 minutes.

Resources needed for this activity

  • white board or chart paper (if the facilitator chooses to write during the shareback)


Our mobile phones are spaces of intimate interactions. We connect with loved ones, lovers, friends, share calls, messages, images, videos, private conversations and images. And insodoing, we know our mobile phones as personal intimate objects, but they are also a part of a larger context, linked to mobile phone providers, regulated by government policies, subject to getting taken, viewed without our consent.

Mobile phone access varies by gender and mobile phone use by women represents a challenge to power – people may enact violence on women using mobile phones; in another context, women may use mobile phones to report abuse.

Pair Discussions - 15 min

In pairs to facilitate personal sharing. Ask one partner to share first and the other to listen. Then prompt partners to swap listening and speaking roles. Each person should have about 5-7 minutes to speak. This will depend on how long it takes for pairs to form.


Write these somewhere visible to everyone or on pieces of paper that the pairs can take with them to their discussions.

  • How do you use your mobile phone? When do you use it? If people are stuck, ask them how they use it with different kinds of people: friends, family, colleagues, strangers.
  • How do you use mobiles for organizing?
  • When do you feel unsafe using your mobile phone? What do you do to manage in these situations? Encourage participants to not discuss possibilities of theft, looking for people to share examples of things like spying housemates, partners, family members; police seizures, etc.

Full Group Shareback - 15 min

Facilitator make notes and synthesize. Are there any strategies in specific that you want to address, situations, scenarios?

Go back to this activity's main module (Mobile Safety)