COLOMBO: A new study shows majority of women, less educated and the poor in Pakistan do not own smartphones, lack awareness of and do not have access to the internet.
The study Information Communication Technology access and use in Asia and the Global South notes that 37pc women between 15-65 years are less likely to own a mobile phone than men.
In the same age group, 43pc women are less likely to use internet putting already disadvantaged women in a more vulnerable position than their male counterparts.
These results put Pakistan alongside India and Bangladesh with the highest gender gap in Asia when it comes to internet and mobile phone accessibility.
“This marginalisation and lack of access is exacerbated in rural and social contexts limiting their access to technology. Also, mere access is not enough if they cannot utilise due to structural and social constraints,” said LirneAsia CEO Helani Galpaya as she announced the results of the report launched at a local hotel in Colombo on Thursday.
LirneAsia, a think tank undertakes research focusing on ICT in Asia.
The report based on a survey of 2,000 households in Pakistan was undertaken to understand how users use or do not use ICT services.
“The 152 million active cellular subscribers mentioned on Pakistan Telecommunication Authority [PTA] website, despite a good SIM registration system, tell nothing about the subscribers, whether they are men or women, rich or poor and does not really help one understand access and usage gaps,” Galpaya said.
The report describes Pakistan better than its peer countries in Asia, noting that 57pc Pakistanis own a mobile of some kind. However, it points out that lack of internet awareness, is a considerable problem across Asian countries, including Pakistan where 69pc population do not know what the internet is. Around 50pc do not see the relevance of internet while 18pc complain of its high costs.
When contacted the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and two mobile operators did not agree with the findings describing them as painting a dismal picture of teledensity in the country.
Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2018