Interesting news on the success or otherwise of attempts to bridge the digital divide comes from a new GSMA study that finds that the mobile internet gender gap has narrowed – but the gap is still a big one.
The study – the Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020 – finds that 54 percent of women in low- and middle-income countries now use mobile internet – up from 44 percent in 2017.
However, despite this progress, the study also finds that the gender gap in mobile internet usage remains substantial, with over 300 million fewer women than men accessing the internet from a mobile device in low and middle-income countries. The underlying gender gap in mobile ownership remains largely unchanged: 165 million fewer women than men own a mobile.
Inevitably, affordability is a major barrier to mobile ownership and mobile internet use. Lower awareness and a lack of literacy and digital skills are also undermining the use of mobile internet by women.
As the GSMA points out, it has been 25 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action made a number of commitments to supporting and promoting women’s rights, and 10 years since the launch of the GSMA Connected Women programme.
In addition the GSMA introduced the Connected Women Commitment Initiative in 2016 to catalyse action to close the mobile gender gap. Many operators have made or renewed their Connected Women Commitment through to 2023 and are helping to drive increased digital and financial inclusion for women but, as the Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020 indicates, there’s some way to go yet.