Beyond the Veil: Identifying the Underlying Factors of Digital Inequality between Men and Women
CPR SOUTH 2018
3 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 30, 2018
Closing the gender divide in ICT access and connectivity as indicated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a significant policy concern. It is imperative however, that the determinants of digital inequality are understood based on rigorous evidence if effective measures are to be taken to reduce digital inequality.
The limited empirical evidence available at the global level indicates major differences between men and women in the volume, frequency, and quality of ICT access, more so among those in the Global South. While the gender gap has narrowed in most regions since 2013, it has widened in Africa, where the proportion of women using the Internet is 25% lower than the proportion of men using the Internet. In Least Developed Countries (LDCs), only one out of seven women use the Internet compared with one out of five men (ITU, 2017).
While claims regarding the benefits that ICTs offer women are not yet widely supported by evidence, it remains important to understand whether these benefits are evenly distributed between men and women and what the reasons are for the uneven distribution when that is found to be the case. It is also essential to understand that extreme inequalities exist between women with regards to access and use of the Internet. Those women who are located at the intersection of other factors of exclusion such as class, race and marginalised locations, whether rural areas or city slums, will experience even greater digital inequality than aggregates of women whether at the global, national or local level.
The 2017 After Access nationally-representative survey data disaggregated based on sex provides a more accurate picture of gender differences in access and use in pre-paid mobile environments. This goes some way to nuancing conceptions of women and men as homogenous groups that have plagued much of the quantitative research and grand claims in this area and enables the location of gender at the intersection of other factors of inequality such as, rural location, class, age and race.
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