The mobile phone gender gap: Why does it matter and what can we do?
In India, only 33 per cent women use mobile phones as against 77 per cent men. This is a wider gap than in other countries at India’s level of development – wider, in fact than many poorer countries where mobile data is more costly. This may seem trivial, given the many other disadvantages Indian women suffer — India slipped 21 slots down this year’s Gender Equality Index published by World Economic Forum, primarily because of the economic disadvantages women suffer due to low access to employment.
Research shows that mobile technology has the potential to help women close gender gaps in outcomes like employment — phones can help job seekers connect to networks and learn about job opportunities. They help buyers and sellers access the best price for market goods. In Africa, access to mobile money has been shown to help households weather hard times and ease poor women’s transition from agriculture to entrepreneurship. Given the mobile gender gap, the technology may work the opposite way in India, making other gender gaps worse.
So, why are Indian women less able to take advantage of mobile technology and what can be done to reverse course?
Photo courtesy of pixelfusion3d.