In the United States, we may often take Internet access for granted. But this is not a luxury all people have, especially women in developing nations. “Women & the Web,” an infographic posted recently by OnlineClasses.org,provides a number of interesting facts and figures on this very topic.
There are approximately 2.4 billion Internet users across the globe, and in Western countries, women use the web 17% more than men. This includes everything from social media activity to online shopping. However, in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East & North Africa, and South Asia, the gender gap is very high when it comes to levels of Internet access. It’s estimated that there were 23% fewer women online in these regions. In some countries, like Azerbaijan, this gap is much higher with just 14% of women having gone online compared to 70% of men. This is of particular concern considering the great amount of freedom women can find through the web. In fact, in a survey of women in developing nations with web access, 50% reported using it to find a job and 30% were able to use it to earn additional income. However, unlike men, who only reinvest between 30 and 40% of their income back into their family, women reinvested an average of 90%.
In addition, the availability of free e-learning sites is also an important resource for women and girls in developing nations. In fact, according to a survey of female web-users in these regions, 8 in 10 reported using the Internet to further their education. This is extremely significant given that of the 110 million children not in school around the globe, 60% are girls. Popular learning sites such as Coursera and Udacity give many students in underserved populations the opportunity to increase their level of education despite other barriers they may encounter.
This is not only an opportunity for self-advancement, but also for economic improvement in many developing nations. Currently, there are an estimated 600 million women online in these regions, but if that number doubled, $13 to $18 billion could be contributed to the annual GDP of 144 developing nations, 180 million women would improve their ability to earn additional income, and 500 million would be able to further their education.
With all this in mind, it’s hard to deny the importance of discussing this issue. Also, it’s not surprising that 70% of women surveyed in these developing countries described the Internet as “liberating.” Going even further, 90% said that web access should be a basic human right. For more information and figures for this topic, please check out the brilliant infographic done by Allison Morris.