Digital Gender Divide Continues to Grow
A GSMA study revealed a slowdown in the number of women accessing mobile internet in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The results contrast with enduring high growth rates for men.
Annual Mobile Gender Gap Report 2022 on digital inclusion showed 59 million additional women started using mobile internet in LMICs during 2021 compared with 110 million in 2020. Previously, the report showed an annual decrease in the mobile internet gender gap, from 25% in 2017 to 15% in 2020. However, the latest findings suggest women are now 16% less likely than men to use mobile internet, representing the first time GSMA has recorded such a downturn.
The digital gender divide seems to have worsened in South Asia, a region that traditionally had the most pronounced mobile internet gender gap, with a reduction from 67% in 2017 to 36% in 2020 reversed in 2021 when the gap stood at 41%. The research suggests mobile is the primary means for women to access the internet in LMICs. The findings come at a time following the COVID-19 pandemic when the role of mobile in staying connected, and accessing health information, government support, and income-generating opportunities was heightened.
GSMA director general Mats Granryd warned that more needs to be done to prevent women from being left behind in the digital economy. “Institutions, corporations, and governments around the world need to focus on the importance of inclusion, and actively seek to combat such inequalities,” added Granryd.