There is a significant gender discrepancy in the number of women and men who own and use mobile devices, with women having least percentage. 81% of women and 87% of men in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC) respectively owned mobile phones. According to GSMA research, gender differences in mobile internet use are substantially greater than those in mobile ownership across all markets. Gender gaps in mobile internet use persist even in nations with smaller gender divides in mobile ownership, such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and India.
In Nigeria, for instance, there is a 5% gender gap between male and female mobile phone ownership (91% vs. 86%). For mobile internet use, the percentage of men is 56% while the percentage of women is 34%. There are a number of variables that contribute to the mobile gender gap including gender discrimination, cultural belief, a lack of awareness, and a lack of purchasing power amid inflation. Comparatively, only 3% of men who do not own mobile phones cite its lack of relevance as the primary reason they do not do so, while 12% of women who do not own mobile phones cite the same reason.
Women are less likely to own a smartphone than men.
This gender gap in mobile phones has serious ramifications for women, including diminished career prospects, restricted access to healthcare information, and elevated risk of physical assault. In addition to the gender disparity in mobile ownership, it is important to evaluate men’s and women’s daily use of mobile internet and usage to determine if the device is adequately satisfying their needs. A large percentage of men and women who have adopted mobile internet use it on a daily basis, however the majority of these daily mobile internet users, notably women, only utilize it for a restricted variety of activities, according to the GSMA Mobile Gender Gap 2023 report.
Among mobile internet users in Nigeria, for example, 34% are women, yet just 13% engage in three or more mobile internet use cases daily, whereas 56% of males and 25% of women do so, respectively. Women are less likely to own a smartphone than men are, but they are more likely to own a feature phone or a basic phone. While many women with internet-enable phones choose not to use the internet, others are unaware that they exist. According to the survey findings, one of the primary barriers to adoption is the high price of an Internet-enabled mobile device.
27% of female smartphone owners don’t go online despite knowing how.
It implies that the owners of these mobile devices are either unfamiliar with the capabilities of their current device or mistakenly believed that they required an upgraded device in order to access the internet. According to the data, 27% of female smartphone owners don’t go online despite knowing how to, while another 5% don’t go online at all despite also knowing how to. On the other hand, 61% or more of Nigerian women who own a smartphone and use the internet agree that they have benefited from doing so, while only 5% or so have reported any negative effects. This shows that women benefit equally from mobile internet use.
Even more so when considering the influence of the internet, closing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership is a challenging but essential issue. By trying to reduce the gap, women can be aided by providing greater influence and improving their quality of life in a variety of ways. Offering more cheap mobile phones and data plans to women, as well as educating women about the advantages of mobile phones and how to use them, are two possible solutions to the growing mobile gender gap in the society at large.
GSMA has reached over 65m additional women with mobile internet.
Moreover, closing the gender gap in mobile internet access and use is critical as the widespread use of smartphones has dramatically increased mobile internet awareness and use among both men and women. Several groups, including the GSMA Connected Women Commitment Initiative, are working to provide equal access to mobile internet and mobile money services for women in an effort to reduce the gender gap in mobile phone use and has so far reached 65 million additional women. However, more concentrated effort and careful planning are required to bridge the gap entirely on the part of the development community and other stakeholders.