Women’s internet use is falling behind in developing countries, says ITU

Women’s internet use is falling behind in developing countries, says ITU

A new ITU report reveals that over half the total global female population is still not using the internet.

Overall, the proportion of all women using the internet globally is 48 per cent, against 58 per cent of all men, says the report, called Measuring digital development: Facts and figures 2019. More men than women use the internet in every region of the world except the Americas, which has near-parity.

ITU data show that while the digital gender gap has been shrinking in the Commonwealth of Independent States and Europe, it is growing in Africa, the Arab States and the Asia-Pacific region. It is widest in developing countries.

There is also a mobile phone gender gap. ITU data show that 96 percent of the world’s population now lives within reach of a mobile cellular signal, but of the 85 countries that provided data to the ITU on mobile phone ownership, 61 have a higher proportion of men with mobile phones than women.

Given that mobile phones are the most-often used means of accessing the internet, the ITU suggests that addressing the issue of women's mobile phone ownership could help to reduce the internet gender divide.

ITU data confirm that internet use continues to grow globally, with 4.1 billion people now using the internet, or 53 percent of the global population.

However, an estimated 3.6 billion people remain offline, with the majority of the unconnected living in the so-called Least Developed Countries, where an average of just two out of every ten people are online.

They are being held back, in many cases, by affordability and lack of digital or basic computing skills. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, says: “Connecting the 3.6 billion people still offline to the power of digital technologies must become one of our most urgent development priorities.”

Measuring digital development: Facts and figures 2019 is the first publication in ITU’s new Measuring digital development series. It is freely available from the ITU website.

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