How much mobile internet access do women have in 2021?
The struggle to close the gender gap is often discussed in the context of civil rights and financial parity. But an increasingly important aspect of the gender gap is how much access women have to the internet and mobile internet compared to men in today’s world.
Tracking women’s access to the world of the internet not only speaks to the more equal status they have in their societies, but it also has deeper implications for their overall status in the 21st century, especially when we talk about low- and middle-income countries, where women find it more difficult to access education or integrate into the professional world.
While it is natural to see an overall increase in internet and smartphone usage in 2020, thanks to the pandemic that has restricted the movement of nearly every human being on planet Earth, this year has been quite critical for women in particular, as their inability to leave their homes forced them to rely almost entirely on the internet for information, services, shopping for their basic needs, in addition to receiving an education and working from home.
Recently, the 2021 Mobile Gender Gap report was released, exploring the changes that may have affected women’s ownership of smart devices and their ability to access the internet, given the vital role the global network plays in providing of all kinds of information and services, especially those that have been made available as a result of the COVID19 outbreak.
The report recognizes the link between women’s use of the Internet using their mobile phones and their level of education, security, autonomy, in addition to serving as a major tool for women to offer their contributions to their communities.
Surveying more than 9,000 people in 8 middle-income countries in middle-income countries during the period October 2020 to January 2021, the study found that 83% of women own mobile devices, of which 58% have a regular internet access. According to the results, women are 15% less likely to own a smartphone than men.
In the Middle East and North Africa, 83% of women have access to mobile internet, and almost 23 million women are completely disconnected from the world. The MENA region ranked third in women’s internet access, after South Asia where women’s mobile internet access accounted for nearly 67% and their counterparts in Africa ranked second with 75%.
Exploring the reasons that may be behind these figures, the study highlights lower literacy rates for women in these three main regions of the world, which could explain the relatively higher literacy figures. Internet access, especially since digital literacy is still work. underway in these regions.
Additionally, the study mentions the disadvantage of non-working women when it comes to purchasing mobile internet packages in communities where women’s market participation continues to be below what is needed. All of these factors are also linked to social norms that are not favorable to women in terms of using technology or receiving an education, despite the many changes that have taken place over the past three decades.