Thursday, 21 February 2019 11:42

Women in poorer countries lag in mobile ownership: study

Women in poorer countries lag in mobile ownership: study Courtesy GSMA

A study by the GSM Association, a trade body for mobile network operators, claims 80% of women in low- and middle-income countries now have their own mobile devices.

The GSMA’s 2019 Mobile Gender Gap Report released on Wednesday said a mobile phone was the primary means of Internet access in these countries, where 48% of women use mobile devices to get online.

However, the study found that despite the growth in connectivity, the gender gap in mobile ownership was not closing.

Women remained 10% less likely than men to own a mobile phone in low- and middle-income countries, and 23% less likely than men to use mobile Internet.

The study found that the mobile gender gap varied by region and country but was widest in South Asia where women were 28% less likely than men to own a mobile device and 58% less likely to use mobile Internet.

“We are seeing significantly increased mobile access for women, however in an increasingly connected world, women are still being left behind,” said Mats Granryd, director-general, GSMA.

“While mobile connectivity is spreading quickly, it is not spreading equally. Unequal access to mobile technology threatens to exacerbate the inequalities women already experience.”

The GSMA said mobile operators were acting to address the mobile gender gap. Under the GSMA Connected Women Program’s Commitment Initiative, 37 mobile operators from 27 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America have pledged to reduce the gender gap in their mobile money or mobile Internet customer base by 2020.

These operators had provided over 16 million additional women with access to digital and financial services since 2016.

“Ensuring digital and financial inclusion for women is critically important, as we know that when women thrive, societies, businesses and economies thrive,” said Granryd.

“Reaching the 432 million women in these countries who are still unconnected will require concerted effort and co-ordination from the mobile industry, as well as policy makers and the international community.”

Affordability, literacy and digital skills, a perceived lack of relevance, and safety and security concerns were cited by women as the major barriers to be addressed to decrease the mobile gender gap.

The full report is available here for download.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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