Digital gender gap: Unequal access to the internet has cost low-income countries $1 trillion

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Oct 11, 2021, 05:11 PM(IST)

(Representative Image) Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The report revealed that the digital gender gap cost $24 billion in lost tax revenues in 2020 This could have been invested in health, education and housing

As per a new research, a failure to ensure that women have equal access to the internet has cost low-income countries $1 trillion over the past decade. Also, this could mean an additional loss of $500 billion by 2025 if governments continue to not take an action.

In 2020, governments in 32 countries, including India, Egypt and Nigeria, lost an estimated $126 billion in gross domestic product because women were unable to contribute to the digital economy. This highlights the digital gender gap, which is, the difference between the number of women and men who can access the internet.

The report revealed that the digital gender gap cost $24 billion in lost tax revenues in 2020 This could have been invested in health, education and housing.

The study, conducted by the World Wide Web Foundation and the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), analysed 32 low and lower-middle-income countries, where the gender gap is often greatest.

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It was concluded that a third of women were connected to the internet compared with almost half of men. The digital gender gap has barely improved since 2011 as it has dropped from 30.9 per cent to 30.4 per cent. 

Globally, men are 21 per cent more likely to be online than women, rising to 52 per cent in the least developed countries

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former executive director of UN Women and founder of the Umlambo Foundation was quoted by The Guardian as saying, "We will not achieve gender equality until we eliminate this digital gap that keeps so many women offline and away from the opportunities the internet provides.”

Various factors contribute to this gap and prevent women from going online. This includes expensive handsets and data tariffs, social norms that discourage women and girls from being online, fears around privacy, safety, and security and a lack of money.

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Catherine Adeya, director of research at the World Wide Web Foundation was quoted by The guardian saying, "As the internet becomes a more potent enabler for education, business, and community mobilisation, a failure to deliver access for all means failing to realise everyone’s potential to contribute.”

Some governments have implemented specific policies to give women access to the internet. According to the A4AI’s 2020 Affordability report, more than 40 per cent of countries had no meaningful policies or programmes to expand women’s access to the internet.

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