The Internet and mobile phones have transformed our connections to people around the world. This technology has also, however, led to a widening gender gap in poorer countries. For it is largely men who control the information revolution that helps to educate, inform and empower.
In low and middle-income countries, a woman is 21 percent less likely than a man to own a mobile phone, according to research done by GSMA. In Africa, women are 23 percent less likely than a man to own a cell phone. In the Middle East the figure is 24 percent and in South Asia, 37 percent,
The factors driving women’s lack of connectivity vary from community to community. But the end result is always the same: disempowerment.
Women are not just missing out on educational and economic opportunities because they don’t own mobile phones. They are losing a voice. This disturbing finding is highlighted by the United Nations/Overseas Development Institute-ledMY World survey, a major, inclusive global poll. Respondents were asked to rank their priorities — including political freedoms, better healthcare, protection from violence and crime — in making the world better. They could vote paper, online or by mobile phone. The results will help world leaders as they deliberate on the post-2015 global development agenda this week, during the conference of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.
The survey has already gathered 1.5 million votes. Women are just as keen as men to have their views heard — engagement offline is a 50-50 split between women and men; online women have voted more than men, with a 52-48 split.