1.5 billion women in LMICs now use mobile internet, 785 million remain unconnected

LONDON, May 16, 2024 -- More women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are using mobile internet than ever before, 1.5 billion (66%) in total. In 2023, an additional 120 million women connected to the internet via mobile. Mobile remains the primary – and often only – way people in LMICs access the internet, accounting for 84% of broadband connections in 2023. However, an alarming 785 million women remain unconnected, with approximately 60% residing in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. This is according to the annual 'Mobile Gender Gap Report 2024' by the GSMA today.




The seventh edition of the report examines data on women's mobile access and use across 12 LMICs[1], the barriers they face and how this compares with men. The report is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) via the GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation, with research funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It provides stakeholders with recommendations to reduce the gender gap in mobile ownership and use, to unlock socio-economic benefits for women everywhere.

The 2024 report reveals a shift in the gender gap. The gender gap in mobile internet adoption across LMICs has narrowed. Compared with 2022, women are now 15% (19% in 2022) less likely than men to use mobile internet, bringing the gap back to its pre-pandemic level. Notable changes in India and Indonesia drove this year's shift where women's rate of adoption exceeded men's. While in Sub-Saharan Africa the gender gap narrowed slightly for the first time in five years.

The gender gap persists across internet use cases

Across LMICs, there are now 1.4 billion women who own a smartphone, meaning that 60% of women now own a smartphone device. In 2023, the gender gap in smartphone ownership narrowed slightly from 15% to 13% across LMICs, driven primarily by progress in South Asia. However, 40% of women in LMICs still do not own a smartphone compared to 31% of men.

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[1] Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Guatemala, and Mexico

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