A little known important fact is that most of the unconnected populations are women. Not enough of them own mobile phones. In low- and middle-income countries alone, there are 1.7 billion females who do not own a mobile phone today says a McKinsey Report. For those who do own phones, the internet usage is prohibitively low and consumption of data and content is less intense. The opportunity is spelt by this gap, which reflects on the fact that phone penetration is less ubiquitous on the ground in rural regions.

Digitally Hers by Shaili Chopra: Social Media and our Social Fabric

Successfully targeting women not only unlocks significant growth potential for the mobile industry but also advances women’s digital and financial inclusion. In fact, closing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage could unlock an estimated $170 billion market opportunity for the mobile industry in the period from 2015 to 2020. Women in South Asia are 38% less likely to own a mobile phone. Social media statistics also reflect this disproportion.

Shaili Chopra
Less than 30 % women use social media, purportedly because it’s an ‘unsafe’ place. Ankhi Das, Policy Head of Facebook brings an important and real perspective to these figures. “It has a lot to do with access to resources. The deeper normative values we need to look at as a society before saying that its only because of safety concerns that people aren’t online. If I as a family have a data plan, and I come from a middle income status which is subject to certain kind of normative values, and if I have both a son and a daughter, I will give the data plan to the son and not the daughter. I think this is a false binary that safety issues are keeping women from coming online.” According to a UN Women Survey, “Gender barriers are real. One in five women in India and Egypt believes the Internet is not “appropriate” for them.”