Intel Calls On Policymakers and Tech Companies to Make Internet More Accessible To Women in India & Developing Countries

A report, funded by Intel Corp with data from the United Nations and US State Department, reveals that women are nearly 25% less likely than men to be online in India and other developing counties including the Middle East and Africa.

According to the report, 600 million women in the developing nations use internet. This is only 21% of the total female population. Another 450 million are likely to get access to the internet by 2016. Additional steps might accelerate the process. ”Without access to the Internet, women lack access to its tools, resources and opportunities,” the report said. “This gap disadvantages not just women, but their families, communities and countries.”

The tech giant calls on policymakers and other technology companies to take steps and double the number of female internet users in these countries. By making it easier to access internet on mobile phones, offering free mobile content and spreading digital literacy and awareness the gap can be minimized.

The survey, done with more than 2,200 girls and women from the developing countries including India, Uganda, Egypt and Mexico reveals that internet access is very crucial for women to search and apply for jobs. Many women interviewed by Intel reported factors like prevalent beliefs that internet was not for them, cost of it, digital literacy and lack of awareness that stopped them to access internet. ”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,” said Melanne Verveer, Ambassador for global women’s issues at the State Department.

In the United States and other developed countries, women are more familiar with internet; some gaps are still there among the poor and in the rural areas. However, the gap is larger in the developing countries. According to Shelly Esque, a VP for the chipmaker & President of its educational foundation, only 11% of men and women in India have internet access compared to 79% in the United States.

Information was such a powerful tool,” while underscoring the role that technology played in the Arab Spring revolts of Egypt, she told Reuters. “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.”

The report says, access to internet would not only impact women’s live in a positive way, but boost the global economy as well. It would add $50 billion to $70 billion in new market opportunities and could bring $13 billion to $18 billion each year to global GDP. These findings would encourage policymakers, non-governmental groups and technology companies to take steps to take the power of internet to the women in India and other developing countries.

Source | NDTV

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