Women feel covid impact as mobile internet use gender gap hits 42%

The number of women who use their mobile devices to surf the internet in Kenya has been impacted negatively during COVID-19 pandemic according to the latest Mobile Gender Gap Report 2021 by GSM Association.

According to the report, the pandemic has resulted to less females using mobile as gender gap in mobile internet use widened to 42% in 2020 from 34% in 2019 a factor being blamed reduced spending and covid inconveniences.

“This unequal access to mobile internet deprives women of access to crucial information and services online, as well as opportunities to meet their life needs in an increasingly digital society,” said GSMA in the report.

The report which covered Low and Middle-Income Countries (LCMICs) also indicates that men are the majority mobile phone owners in Kenya at 92% and women 86% leaving a gender gap of 7%.

“If women are to become equal citizens in a more digital, post-COVID world, closing the mobile gender gap has never been more critical. I urge policymakers, the private sector and the international community to take note of the important findings laid out in the Mobile Gender Gap Report because only concerted action and collaboration will enable women and their families to reap the full benefits of connectivity,” said Mats Granryd, GSMA Director General.

Source | GSMA

Kenya’s 42% gender gap in mobile internet use was the highest among the countries surveyed with Mozambique following at 36%, Nigeria 29% and Algeria the lowest at 8%.

“A phone is not a priority for me now, other things are; children going to school, buying food, clothing,” said one of the female respondents.

GSMA says seven out of the eight countries surveyed which also include Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Guatemala, female internet users were more likely than their male counterparts to access it exclusively via mobile

“In Kenya, 63% of male internet users reported using the internet only via mobile compared to 79% of female internet users. Women’s reliance on mobile to access the internet demonstrates the disproportionate benefit that increasing mobile internet access in LMICs would have for women.”

Smartphone ownership among females in Kenya also remained flat at 32% between 2019 and 2020, whereas ownership among men rose just 4% to 47% from 43% in 2019.

Source | GSMA

In 2020, 25% of mobile devices owned by men were basic phones, 14% basic feature phones and 47% smartphone.

On the other hand, 34% of mobile devices owned by women were basic phones, 11% feature phone and 32% smartphones.

The GSMA report showed an estimated 112 million more females started using mobile internet last year alone across low- and middle-income countries.

The report further indicated that mobile internet awareness among women surged to 74% in 2020 compared to 53% in 2017 while awareness among men rose to 85% from 71% during the period.

Nevertheless, 234 million fewer women than men access mobile internet, the association which represents 750 mobile network companies across the globe stated.


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