A new report has highlighted increasing levels of inequality between the sexes when it comes to access to mobile broadband

This week, a new industry report has highlighted a widening gender divide when it comes to access to broadband internet services.

The State of Broadband report, published by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, shows that women are on average 26 per cent less likely to use mobile internet than men.

According to data published by the GSMA, over 1.2 billion women in low and middle-income countries do not have access to mobile internet.

Data collected by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development found that the gender gap in internet usage had widened from 11.0 per cent in 2013 to 11.6 per cent in 2017, highlighting a worrying trend in broadband access.

The data revealed that the digital inequality was most prevalent in Africa, where the digital divide widened from 20.7 per cent in 2013 to 25.3 per cent in 2017.

The Americas was the only geographical location where women had more access to mobile broadband than men with the divide widening from -0.4 per cent in 2013 to -2.6 per cent in 2017.

With women across the world experiencing unequal access to connectivity, it is feared that they could also be missing out on a range of transformative services such as online banking and access to education.

"A strong link is observed between gender parity in the enrolment ratio in tertiary education and gender parity in Internet use, as the digital gender divide reflects broader social inequalities16. The only region where a higher percentage of women than men are using the Internet is the Americas, where countries also score highly on gender parity in tertiary education," the report said.

Steven Carey, senior analyst at Forethought, believes that governments need to work closer with industry partners to ensure that enough is being done to promote equal access to broadband.

"The report’s findings show that we still have a lot of work to do to overcome gender inequality in terms of access to broadband. Broadband access brings with it a host of transformative benefits, that have the potential to revolutionise people’s lives, and more needs to be done to improve access across the board," he said.

"While Europe and Asia Pacific saw a narrowing of the digital divide, it is worrying to see the split widening in Africa.

"The time is right for governments and industry to work together to improve mobile broadband access for women, particularly in the developing worlds. The State of Broadband report shows that gender inequality of broadband access is most prolific in developing economies. Mobile broadband is a hugely transformative thing and behoves upon governments to proactively safeguard the development of their economies by ensuring that everyone has access to it.   

The report highlights a number of key initiatives that are aiming to redress the balance of gender inequality in broadband access, stating that it hopes to see a reduction in, and eventually an eradication of, the digital divide.

"Despite this adverse trend, it is hoped that gender equality in Internet access can be achieved by 2025," the report stated. 


Friday Review – 14/09/2018