Broadband access gender gap growing

nternet access may be increasing worldwide but there is a large and widening gender gap, particularly in the developing world, according to a UN report.

The UN Broadband Commission has estimated that there are 200 million fewer women than men online, and warned that this gap could increase to 350 million within three years unless action is taken.

Around 1.3 billion of the world’s 2.8 billion internet users are men. While the gender gap is relatively small in OECD nations, in the developing world it is a different story.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Broadband Commission estimates that there are only half as many women online as men.

The report also estimates that women worldwide are on average 21% less likely to own a mobile phone, citing previous GSMA statistics showing that there are around 300 million fewer mobile phone users than men. This equates to $13 billion in potential missed revenues for mobile operators.

“Promoting women’s access to ICTs &- and particularly broadband – should be central to the post-2015 global development agenda,” said Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General and co-vice chair of the Broadband Commission.

The mobile miracle has demonstrated the power of ICTs in driving social and economic growth, but this important new report reveals a worrying “gender gap” in access.

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