According to the GSM Association’s (GSMA) ‘2019 Mobile Gender Gap Report’, just 42 per cent of women in India are aware of the internet, and that it can be used on a mobile phone.
Surprised? Well, the report, released on Wednesday, states that women in India are 28 per cent less likely than men to own a mobile phone. It also said that women are 56 per cent less likely than men to use mobile internet. The mobile gender gap varies by region and country but is the widest in South Asia.
However, women’s mobile phone ownership has increased significantly in low- and middle-income countries since 2014. The number of women who own a mobile has risen by over 250 million, with 80 per cent of women across these markets now owning a mobile phone.
Mobile is the primary means of internet access in low- and middle-income countries, particularly for women. Forty eight per cent of women in these countries now use mobile internet. However, there is a persistent mobile gender gap.
Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA, said in a statement, “We are seeing significantly increased mobile access for women. However, in an increasingly connected world, women are still being left behind.”
Women in low- and middle-income countries are 10 per cent less likely than men to own a mobile, which translates into 197 million fewer women than men owning a mobile phone. As mobile subscriber growth slows, the gender gap in mobile ownership is not closing.
“While mobile connectivity is spreading quickly, it is not spreading equally. Unequal access to mobile technology threatens to exacerbate the inequalities women already experience,” said Granryd.
Network operators such as Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have signed up for the Commitment Initiative of the GSMA Connected Women Program and are committed to reducing the gap between their customers’ genders by 2020.
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Sonakshi Goel is an intern with SheThePeople.TV