Poll: women are still less likely to own a mobile phone

Mobile phones are valued by women as life-enhancing tools. [iStockphoto]

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the digital divide, and those without access to cellphones and mobile internet risk being left even further behind.

While more than 3.2 billion people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) now access the internet on a mobile phone, mobile ownership and use remains unequal.

According to the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) Mobile Gender Gap Report 2022, mobile phones are viewed by women as tools that improve lives and make them feel more empowered, connected and safe.

But analysis shows that even when women have the same levels of education, income, literacy and employment as men, they are still less likely to own a cellphone or use mobile internet. , suggesting that other issues are at play, such as discrimination and social discrimination. standards.

Women are still seven percent less likely than men to own a mobile phone. In some countries, a significant proportion of smartphone owners do not use mobile internet, especially women.

A year later, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect women disproportionately. The business opportunity for the mobile industry is also considerable.

The study showed that most mobile internet users in Kenya had drastically reduced their internet usage during the pandemic to make ends meet.

“Women have household chores, responsibilities, and they have very limited windows during the day that they have free and have access to a cell phone where they can engage…It’s hard for (women) to start doing something, to actually take that step,” the report says, quoting an expert.

“But once they’ve done that, they actually see more value and they’re more excited about continuing to engage.” Many women are still unaware of the services that mobile can provide. For example, a quarter of women in Kenya are still unaware of mobile internet.

“I didn’t like the idea of ​​selling the phone, but I had no choice. I sold it because I wanted to support my family,” said a Rift Valley resident who was not identified in the report. “My mom didn’t have any stock in her shop, so I wanted to help…so that at least we could survive for about three weeks after selling this phone.”

In 2019, GSMA research estimated that closing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and use in LMICs could yield $140 billion (16.38 trillion shillings) in revenue additions to the mobile phone industry.

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