Fewer women use mobile internet: GSMA
Despite years of progress towards equal digital inclusion for women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), 59 million more women started using mobile internet in 2021, up from 110 million in 2020, report finds GSMA 2022 on the Mobile Gender Gap.
The expansion of mobile internet access in LMICs continues apace, but risks leaving women even further behind, according to the analysis.
This recent slowdown in the growth rate at which women are adopting mobile internet in LMICs contrasts with the still high growth rates among men. In total, only 60% of women in the PRITIs now use mobile internet, compared to 71% of men.
In the LITIs, the report shows that the gender gap in mobile internet has narrowed each year from 2017 to 2020, from 25% to 15%. However, GSMA data from 2021 suggests that momentum has been lost. Women are now 16% less likely than men to use mobile internet, which equates to 264 million fewer women than men using mobile internet.
In South Asia, the gap is more marked. The gender gap in mobile internet had narrowed significantly from 67% in 2017 to 36% in 2020, but has now widened to 41%.
GSMA Chief Executive Mats Granryd said: “For decades, the mobile internet has transformed the lives of women around the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries. But worrying statistics from our Mobile Gender Gap Report 2022 show that there is still a long way to go to prevent women from being left behind in the digital economy. Institutions, businesses and governments around the world must focus on the importance of inclusion and actively seek to combat these inequalities.
According to the GSMA, mobile remains the main means for women to access the Internet in LMICs. “In particular, the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of mobile phones as a valuable tool in helping women access health information, stay in touch with family during lockdowns, pursue income-generating opportunities and access government support,” the report said.