According to the Mobile Gender Gap Report released by the GSMA, the digital gender gap is far from being closed by 2030 in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The report highlights that over 800 million women in these regions will need to embrace mobile internet in order to bridge the gap effectively.
Unfortunately, the report reveals that progress in narrowing the mobile internet gender divide has been stagnant. In LMICs, women are still 19% less likely to use mobile internet compared to men, resulting in approximately 310 million fewer women accessing it.
The forecast for the next decade indicates that if no significant changes occur, only around 360 million more women will start using mobile broadband, falling short of the target of 800 million.
The Mobile Gender Gap Report examines mobile ownership and internet usage in LMICs across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It offers insights into the magnitude of the gender gap in each region, identifies barriers to mobile ownership and internet adoption, and provides recommendations for various stakeholders, including policymakers, regulators, mobile operators, and NGOs.
Funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) through the GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation, the report underscores the urgent need for collective action to address this pressing issue.
“Mobile phones are the primary, and often only, source of internet access in LMICs, particularly in rural communities, so it’s alarming to see women’s digital inclusion slow for the second year in a row,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA. “Greater collaboration across all stakeholders in the digital community, from governments to operators, NGOs to internet companies, is needed to enable more women to access and use mobile internet and ultimately ensure women are not being left behind in an increasingly digital world.”
In 2016, the GSMA introduced the GSMA Connected Women Commitment initiative with the aim of assisting mobile operators in reducing the gender gap in their customer base for mobile internet and mobile money services. Since its launch, more than 40 mobile operators in LMICs have formally committed to narrowing the gender gap, resulting in over 65 million additional women gaining access to these services. This has brought significant socio-economic benefits to underserved women, their communities, and the overall economy.
Mobile network operators (MNOs) have played a crucial role in reducing the mobile gender gap by implementing targeted strategies to address the specific needs and barriers faced by women when it comes to adopting and utilizing mobile internet services. However, to make substantial progress and fully tackle this issue, a collective effort is needed from all stakeholders, including MNOs, internet companies, policymakers, regulators, and the development community. Increased focus and targeted action from these stakeholders are essential in achieving meaningful advancements in closing the gender gap and ensuring equal access to mobile services for all.