Gender Matters in Mobile and Broadband Access

It may seem like everyone from pre-teens to savvy seniors has a mobile device or access to broadband these days. But this is not the case around the world. In many nations, women have considerably less access to mobile technology and the opportunity it offers.

For example, in Africa and in South East Asia, there is a big mobile phone gender gap. About twenty percent fewer women have access to mobile than men. This is a big obstacle for women because access to mobile allows them to access to information about health, entrepreneurship and all sorts of opportunities and advantages.

With the backdrop of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, technology firms including Ericsson are working to highlight the potential of mobile technology in solving some of the world’s major challenges. Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg appeared as a panel speaker at the Social Good Summit, where the main theme is #2030Now. You can learn more about the summit at http://mashable.com/sgs/

One of the aspects under discussion includes the mobile gender gap following a Broadband Commission Report on the results of the Working Group on Broadband and Gender. Anne Bouverot, Director General of GSMA, spoke on initiatives to bridge the gap: “When you think about mobile, you think that everyone has access to mobile but in particular in Africa and in South East, there is a big mobile phone gender gap – it’s roughly 20% less women that have access to mobile than men. And why it matters is because when you have access to mobile, you can have access to information about health, access to information about entrepreneurship and all sorts of capabilities.”

The Broadband Commission Report “Working Group on Broadband and Gender: Doubling Digital opportunities – enhancing the inclusion of women & girls in the Information Society” presents policy for promoting gender equality agendas in national policy-making, as well as practical policy suggestions to expand women’s access to broadband and boost female participation in the Information Society. The five policy recommendations are: integrating gender and national ICT and broadband policies; improving sex-disaggregated ICT statistics and measurement; boosting the affordability and usability of ICTs; improving relevant and local content online; and finally initiating an action plan to achieve gender equality in access to broadband by 2020. You can access the broadband report at http://www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/working-groups/bb-doubling-digital-2013.pdf

Mobile technology and broadband is a gender issue in some areas.

Mobile technology and broadband is a gender issue in some areas.

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