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GSMA report reveals surge in mobile internet adoption among women in low and middle-income countries

Women's Tabloid News Desk
Women's Tabloid News Desk

Mobile internet usage among women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) has seen a significant surge, according to the latest report by the GSMA. The report indicates that a staggering 1.5 billion women in LMICs are now accessing the internet via mobile devices, marking a notable increase of 120 million women in 2023 alone. Despite this progress, approximately 785 million women remain unconnected, with the majority concentrated in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Published annually, the ‘Mobile Gender Gap Report 2024’ sheds light on women’s access to and usage of mobile technology across 12 LMICs. Supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the report aims to provide insights and recommendations to bridge the gender gap in mobile ownership and usage.

One of the key findings of the report is the narrowing of the gender gap in mobile internet adoption across LMICs. Compared to previous years, women are now 15% less likely than men to use mobile internet, bringing the gap back to pre-pandemic levels. Notable progress was observed in countries like India and Indonesia, where women’s adoption rates surpassed those of men.

Despite these advancements, challenges persist in achieving gender parity in smartphone ownership and internet usage. While 60% of women in LMICs now own smartphones, a substantial gender gap still exists, with 40% of women lacking access to these devices compared to 31% of men.

The report also highlights the barriers hindering women’s mobile internet adoption and usage. Affordability, digital literacy, and access to education are identified as primary obstacles, compounded by factors such as the gender pay gap and lower employment rates among women. Additionally, safety and security concerns, along with affordability issues related to data and handsets, pose significant challenges to sustained internet usage.

Closing the mobile gender gap not only holds immense social and economic benefits but also contributes to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The GSMA estimates that bridging this gap could generate an additional $230 billion in revenue for the mobile industry over an eight-year period.

Commenting on the findings, Claire Sibthorpe, Head of Digital Inclusion at the GSMA said, “The reduction in the mobile internet gender gap is promising, but sustaining momentum is fragile. Our Connected Women Commitment Initiative shows that setting clear targets and taking informed, focused action can make a difference; since 2016 our operator partners have collectively reached over 70 million additional women with mobile internet and mobile money services. Gender gaps stem from complex social, economic, and cultural factors, that require collective action from a broad set of organisations. We are calling on stakeholders including governments, MNOs and development organisations to work together to ensure digital and financial inclusion for women everywhere.”

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