The technological gender gap is holding back development

The gender gap between men and women is still wide when it comes to the use of mobile technology and Internet access, especially in the least-developed or developing countries. A report from GSMA depicts a status quo which has strong socio-economic repercussions, in terms of human rights, employment opportunities, learning and education. Two projects in Kenya and Myanmar are attempting to remedy this disparity.

The technological gender gap

There are still approximately 1.7 billion women across the world who have no access to mobile services and devices. The technological gender gap is a distinct reality, especially in the least-developed or developing countries. A study carried out by GSMA, the global association of mobile operators also attests to this fact. Compared with men, the number of women who own a mobile phone accounts for 200 million less, or 14%. This translates into fewer opportunities to access important development tools, and turns the digital gap into a socio-economic gap. Mobile phone use would, in fact, ensure women’s empowerment, through access to more information and more opportunities for growth and employment. But the barriers hindering this access – economic, cultural and social – are still to numerous and too strong

Experiments in Kenya and Myanmar

Bridging the gender gap requires long-term intensive efforts. Several countries are now taking action with public projects or private initiatives. Two concrete examples can be found in Kenya and Myanmar

The Kenyan project is sponsored by Intel Corporation in cooperation with the NGO Joyful Women Organization. This initiative is providing a digital literacy programme that aims to train 1 million women in Kenya in the use of new technologies by 2020. The Myanmar Government has also launched a similar initiative,  Tech Age Girls Myanmar, to facilitate access for young women to the Internet and social networks, intended as tools to develop their skills and vehicles for culture and information.