The mobile gender gap refers to how much less likely a woman is to use mobile internet than a man, at least once in the last three months. Every year, GSMA Intelligence conducts surveys to determine whether the mobile gemder gap is increasing, or narrowing, or remaining constant.
A survey done by GSMA Intelligence across 15 low- and middle-income countries, sampling 16,000 individuals in 2019 reveals the following:
- 54% of women now use the internet
- Women are 8% less likely to own a mobile phone, translating to 165 million fewer women than men owning a mobile phone
- Women are 20% less likely to use the internet on a mobile
- 300 million fewer women than men use mobile internet
Furthermore, the gender gap is largest in South Asia at 51%, with Sub-Saharan Africa coming second at 37%.
Male and female mobile ownership and mobile internet use by country. Image courtesy; GSMA Intelligence
However, even as the mobile internet gender gap has narrowed over the years to bring an additional 236 million women online, women on average still use a smaller range of services in all 15 countries surveyed. The following factors contribute to this:
- Handset affordability, resulting into most of them having only basic phones, with no internet access
- Lack of literacy and digital skills
- Safety concerns, particularly in Latin America
Barriers to mobile ownership and internet use. Image courtesy; GSMA Intelligence
According to the report, 2.9 billion people now access the internet on their mobile phones in low- and middle-income countries. However, it notes that narrowing and eventually closing the gender gap could deliver an additional $700 billion in GDP growth and another $140 billion in additional revenue to the mobile industry.
In summary, 1.2 billion women now own a smartphone in low and middle-income countries, which shows an 11% increase, from 44% to 55%.