More needs to be done to boost women's and girl's lagging online access,
tech giant Intel Corp said in a report to be released later on Thursday
that calls for doubling the number of female Internet users in
developing nations over the next three years.
The report, funded by
the global chipmaker with input from the United Nations and U.S. State
Department, among others, points to stubborn gaps in women's access to
the Internet in Africa, the Middle East and other developing parts of
It found women are nearly 25 percent less likely than
men to be online in those regions, and called on policymakers and
technology companies to take steps such as making it easier to access
the Internet on mobile phones, allowing free mobile content and boosting
digital literacy to shrink the gap.
Surveys and interviews with
more than 2,200 women and girls focused on four developing countries -
Egypt, India, Mexico and Uganda - found that Internet access was
critical for women to earn more money or search and apply for jobs.
the powerful capabilities the Internet enables - to connect, to learn,
to engage, to increase productivity, and to find opportunities - women's
lack of access is giving rise to a second digital divide, one where
women and girls risk being left further and further behind," said
Melanne Verveer, ambassador for global women's issues at the State
Although the United States and other developed nations
see fairly high levels of overall Internet access and usage among
women, some gaps remain, mostly in rural areas or among the poor.
In the developing world, however, the gap is far wider.
11 percent of men and women in India have Internet access compared to
79 percent in the United States, said Shelly Esque, a vice president for
the chipmaker and president of its educational foundation.
report shows 600 million women in developing nations, or 21 percent,
are online now, and another 450 million are expected to gain Internet
access by 2016. But taking extra steps could help bring an additional
150 million women and girls online over the next three years, the report
Good for global economy
Esque pointed to the role technology played in the Arab Spring revolts, particularly in Egypt.
was such a powerful tool," she told Reuters. "What would be the
potential for a country like that if they were able to have more equal
access? We need to work on that."
A U.N. Human Rights Council
resolution last year recognized the power of the Internet to spur
progress and encouraged countries to promote and facilitate access to
Still, many women surveyed by Intel cited barriers ranging
from the belief that Internet use was not "appropriate" for them to the
cost of getting connected. Illiteracy and lack of awareness about
potential uses also were factors.
Increased access would not only improve women's lives but also boost the global economy, according to Intel's report.
would add between $50 billion and $70 billion in potential new market
opportunities, the report said. It could also bring another $13 billion
to $18 billion each year globally to the market value of goods and
services - a measure known as gross domestic product or GDP.
findings by the Santa Clara, California-based company aim to encourage
other technology companies, policymakers and nongovernmental groups to
take steps to get more women and girls online, it said.
access to the Internet, women lack access to its tools, resources and
opportunities," the report said. "This gap disadvantages not just women,
but their families, communities and countries."
© Thomson Reuters 2012