Internet and mobile phone access and adoption are critical modern tools required to participate in today’s world. However, a digital divide is growing between men and women globally as women on average are 14% less likely to own a mobile phone than men (200 million fewer women than men owning mobile phones) and the global internet user gender gap has grown from 11% in 2013 to 12% in 2016.
Since 2012, USAID has been focusing on closing the digital gender divide through a series of projects focused on:
Supporting policy advocacy for the right of women to participate in the digital economy:
The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a USAID-funded Global Development Alliance, is working to catalyze policy change in order to drive down internet prices, thereby bringing the next two billion online and opening up new markets. A4AI, as part of the Web Foundation, continues to push for policy change that empowers women’s use of ICTs and the internet, particularly by advocating for policies identified in the Women’s Rights Online project.
Developing research and tools:
USAID’s Gender and ICT Survey Toolkit addresses the challenge of poor gender disaggregated data at the sub-national level. The Gender and ICT Survey Toolkit was developed to facilitate the collection of gender-disaggregated information by including draft survey questions and research design.
USAID’s Gender and ICT Training Course focuses on integrating gender and ICT programming for USAID staff and implementing partners.
Partnering with the private sector:
USAID partnered with GSMA’s mWomen Program from 2012 to 2015, to bridge the mobile gender gap. By working with the mobile industry, this program reached over 15 million women in 35 countries with new access to mobile technology and helped strengthen the business case for mobile network operators to invest in new products and services for women in emerging markets.
In Iraq, for instance, the mWomen Program partnered with mobile network operator Asiacell to offer a product specifically developed for women. In less than two years, Asiacell increased the share of female subscribers from 20% to 40% of its subscriber base, making significant progress toward closing one of the world’s worst mobile gender gaps.
In Nigeria and Kenya, USAID has partnered with NetHope, Intel Corporation, World Pulse, World Vision and UN Women to bring 120,000 young women online through the Women and the Web Alliance.
In 2011, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the GSMA and Visa Inc. launched a three-year partnership to increase mobile phone ownership among women in the developing world. The mWomen program enabled women to effectively use mobile phone to access life-enhancing information, networks and services - such as banking, education and healthcare through a series of projects and innovation challenge grants.