ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has the highest male-female gap in terms of mobile phone set ownership among 15 countries, said a report issued on Thursday by the GSMA, an organisation representing the interests of mobile operators worldwide.
According to the report, the gender gap over mobile internet usage in Pakistan is even higher.
The report highlights that among all the 15 countries only Brazil had the negative male-female mobile phone ownership and mobile internet use, where 84 per cent adult males owned a mobile phone compared to 85pc female adult population.
The ‘Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020’ is based on the annual GSMA Intelligence Consumer Survey of 2019 belonging to 15 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The base of the consumer survey is the total population aged 18 years and above, and a mobile phone owner is defined as a person who has sole or main use of a SIM card or a mobile phone that does not require a SIM and uses it at least once a month.
The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020 highlights that Pakistan has the highest gender gap of 38pc over mobile phone ownership as 81pc Pakistani males owned mobile sets compared to 50pc females.
Similarly, the gap over mobile internet usage was 49pc, with 37pc Pakistani males against 19pc females having access to mobile internet.
The report highlights that despite progress, the gender gap in mobile internet usage remains substantial, with more than 300 million fewer women than men accessing the internet from a mobile device.
It has been said that affordability remains the critical barrier to mobile phone ownership, while lower awareness, as well as a lack of literacy and digital skills, are vital factors preventing women’s mobile internet use.
The report highlighted that the industry is renewing its commitment to reaching women with digital and financial services to address the persistent mobile gender gap.
The report finds that the mobile internet gender gap has narrowed and 54pc of women in LMICs now use mobile internet, up from 44pc in 2017. However, the gender gap in mobile ownership remains largely unchanged and 165 million fewer women than men own a mobile.
The research found that mobile offers essential benefits to users, and the majority of male and female mobile owners reported that mobile ownership makes them feel safer, better informed and supports them in their day-to-day lives.
In a statement over the report, GSMA Director General Mats Granryd said that ensuring digital and financial inclusion for women was important because when women thrive, societies, businesses and economies thrive.
“We are seeing important progress in driving equal internet access for women, but the pace of progress still remains slow, we urge business and government communities to continue prioritising efforts to drive more equal access to mobile technology,” Mr Granryd added.
Of all surveyed countries, Mozambique has the lowest level of mobile phone ownership, with only 46pc of women and 56pc of men own mobile sets.
The findings of ‘Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020’ are sourced from the annual GSMA Intelligence Consumer Survey 2019, which had over 16,000 respondents from 15 LMICs.
The report highlighted that lack of family approval was a major impediment for women in many countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Algeria, to own mobile sets and use mobile- based internet.
Access to useful information
In Pakistan, 55pc of male mobile owners and 53pc of female mobile owners reported that owning a mobile phone gives them access to useful information they would not otherwise be able to access easily.
About 58pc of female mobile owners reported that owning a mobile phone helped them with their daily tasks.
The smart phone ratio in Pakistan was 37pc and 20pc for males and females, while 90pc for men against 42pc for females buy their own devices.
About 90pc males and 63pc females in India bought mobile sets of their choice.
This gap was the lowest in Indonesia where 86pc females compared to 91pc males respondents bought their own mobile sets.
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2020