Bangalore: Developing countries can be classified by the best practices they lack, compared to the developed countries. As per a recent report released by the tech giant Intel Corp better measures need to be taken to increase the access to online by women and girls. This needs to be done in order to double the number of female internet users in developing countries in the next three years as reported by Reuters.
In these regions it was found that women are about 25 percent less likely than men to be online. The situation called for the technology companies and policymakers to take measures such as allowing free mobile content, making it easier to access the Internet on mobile phones and increasing digital literacy to reduce the gap.
The survey was done focusing on women and girls in four developing countries - Egypt, Mexico, India and Uganda in which over 2,200 women including girls were interviewed. It was found that to earn more money or search and apply for jobs women need internet access.
Melanne Verveer, ambassador for global women's issues at the State Department said, “With 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,” as reported by Reuters.In the U.S. and other developed countries the gap is fairly low as high levels of internet access and usage is seen among women. The gap noticed in these countries exists mostly in rural areas or among the poor.
The gap is far wider in the developing countries in the world.
Shelly Esque, a vice president for the chipmaker and president of its educational foundation informed that in India just 11 percent of men and women have internet access as countered by the U.S. with 79 percent access.
The report showed that in developing countries 600 million women, which is, 21 percent get online and by 2016, another 450 million is expected to get internet access. With the additional measures it could help in adding 150 million women and girls to get internet access in the next three years, informed the report.
The role played by technology in the Arab Spring revolts, especially in Egypt was pointed by Esque. She said, “Information was such a powerful tool.” She further added, “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,” as reported by Reuters.
The potential of the internet to stimulate progress was recognized by a UN Human Rights Council resolution and it has encouraged nations to promote and facilitate internet access. As seen by Intel among many women survey the usage barrier was also cited because of the belief that internet use was not ‘appropriate’ for them at the cost of getting connected. The other factors leading to the barrier were lack of awareness and illiteracy.
The report also claimed that the boost in the internet access would not just improve lives of women but will also enhance the global economy. The report has cited the new market opportunities which would be somewhere between $50 billion and $70 billion with more internet users. It could also add another $13 billion to $18 billion globally to the market value of goods and services, each year.
The report informed that as per the findings by the California based company, Santa Clara which aims to encourage other technology companies, nongovernmental groups and policymakers to take measures to get more women and girls online to bridge the gap.
The report said, “Without access to the Internet, women lack access to its tools, resources and opportunities. This gap disadvantages not just women, but their families, communities and countries."
The lack of internet access or the low number of women getting online is posing a potential threat to the country’s development. This can be converted to its advantage just by few simple steps and educating women with the boon of internet, which can come from family, community or the government in the country.