Over half of women around the world still do not use the internet. The first report in the International Telecommunication Union’s new ‘Measuring digital development’ series estimates that 52 percent of women do not use the internet, compared to 42 percent of all men. More men than women use the internet in every region of the world except the Americas, which has near-parity.
The ITU data show that while the digital gender gap has been shrinking in the Commonwealth of the Independent States and Europe, it is growing in Africa, the Arab states and the Asia-Pacific region. It is widest in developing countries, especially the least developed countries, where on average only a fifth of people are online.
In total, 4.1 billion people use the internet around the world, equal to 53.6 percent of the global population, leaving around 3.6 billion offline. Europe is the region with the highest internet use (82.5%), while Africa is the region with the lowest (28.2%).
Over 9 in 10 can access 3G or better
The report also looks at access to mobile services. The ITU data show that 96 percent of the world population lives within reach of a mobile cellular signal and 93 percent within reach of a 3G or higher network, able to provide internet services.
Of the 85 countries that provided data on mobile phone ownership, 61 had a higher proportion of men with mobile phones than women. Of the 24 remaining countries where there is gender parity in mobile phone ownership, or where more women have mobile phones than men, Chile has the highest digital gender gap in favour of women, at 12 percent.
While mobile networks are available in most places to provide internet access, the ITU found that digital skills remain a barrier to increasing internet use, especially in the least developed countries. In 40 out of 84 countries for which data are available, less than half the population had basic computer skills, such as copying a file or sending an e-mail with an attachment.