Gender gap in mobile internet usage in Bangladesh widest in 10 PRITI

Bangladesh recorded the most notable increases in weekly use of mobile value-added services by women

June 26, 2022, 10:20 p.m.

Last modification: June 27, 2022, 11:50 a.m.

Infographic: TBS


Infographic: TBS

Bangladesh has the highest gender gap in mobile internet usage among ten low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) according to the latest Mobile Gender Gap Report 2022 from Bangladesh. GSMA.

The gap widened in 2021, with around 48% of women less likely to use mobile internet than men. The gap was 41% in 2020.

Around 36% of men in the country use mobile internet compared to 19% of women, the report based on the GSMA Consumer Survey 2021 said.

Dr Fahmida Khatun, Executive Director of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said: “There is a direct economic impact of this because lack of access to internet and devices means lack of access to information that will eventually lack competence.”

She said the gender gap keeps Bangladeshi women away from the labor market and businesses.

Fahmida further said that a higher gap means a higher digital divide and a further decline in human capital development.

The survey covered 10 low- and middle-income countries – four from Africa, four from Asia and two from Latin America.

In India, the gender gap in mobile internet usage is 41%, the second highest among the countries surveyed.

It is followed by Kenya and Pakistan, which each have a gender gap of 38%.

Egypt, Senegal and Nigeria have a gender gap of 12%, 16% and 36%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the gender gap in Indonesia is 8%, the lowest among the four Asian countries.

Two Latin American countries, Guatemala and Mexico, have a gender gap of 14% and 3% respectively.

The gender gap in mobile internet use was also higher than the gender gap in mobile phone ownership in Bangladesh.

About 84% of men in Bangladesh own a mobile phone, while 65% of women have one, with the gender gap in this regard reaching 23%, the second highest among the countries.

However, the gap has narrowed compared to 2020, which was 24%.

The report highlights that only 59 million additional women in LMICs started using mobile internet in 2021. This number was 110 million in 2020.

GSMA Chief Executive Mats Granryd said: “For decades, 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,” he added.

He added: “Institutions, businesses and governments around the world must focus on the importance of inclusion and actively seek to combat these inequalities.”

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) has identified and ranked three main barriers to mobile internet use among female Bangladeshi users: digital literacy and skills, affordability, safety and security.

All 10 countries were surveyed in 2021, and a representative national sample of around 1,000 adult men and women aged 18 and over were surveyed, with the exception of India, where the sample was about 2000.

Significant increase in value-added mobile services

“Bangladesh saw the most notable increases in weekly usage of value-added mobile services between 2020 and 2021, when female mobile phone owners increased their usage of education services by 21%, entertainment services paid by 16%, health services by 14%, and government services and job applications by 12 percentage points.These increases across a wide variety of use cases signal a promising shift in how the mobile brings value to women homeowners in Bangladesh,” the report says.

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