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Dhaka Tribune

Report: Bangladesh tops Asia with 40% gender gap in mobile internet usage

  • Nearly 20% gender gap in terms of mobile ownership 
  • Women in Bangladesh 24% behind in receiving mobile internet service
Update : 18 May 2024, 06:48 PM

A recent report reveals that Bangladesh has the highest gender gap in mobile internet use among Asian countries, with a gap of 40%.

Besides, women in Bangladesh are lagging far behind in receiving mobile internet services which is only 24%.

Although women are more aware of the use of the internet, they are even more interested in using the internet than men. They are close to men in this awareness.

Meanwhile, lack of education and digital skills is the main reason why women are lagging behind in using the internet.

The Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), a global organization of mobile phone service providers, published the report titled “The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2024” this month. 

In the report, GSMA published data on 12 low- and middle-income countries. 

The countries are Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Nigeria, Uganda, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Guatemala and Mexico.

In all countries surveyed in 2023, a sample of approximately 1,000 male and female adults aged 18 and over 18 were surveyed, with the exception of India where the sample was approximately 2,000. 

All surveys were interviewer-administered using handheld devices.

According to the GSMA, Bangladesh has the highest gap between men and women in receiving mobile internet services at 40% among Asian countries. The gap is 30% in India, 38% in Pakistan and 8% in Indonesia.

Although the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and internet usage in Bangladesh has dropped slightly.

According to the report, 50% of women in Bangladesh know about the use of the Internet. Still, they do not use it. Lack of literacy and digital skills emerged as reasons for not using the internet on mobile phones, which also applies to men. Apart from this, lack of capacity is also a big factor.

According to the GSMA report, women are lagging behind in mobile phone ownership in low and middle income countries. Women who are particularly disadvantaged, uneducated, living in rural areas or specially-abled are left behind.

According to the report, 85% of men and 68% of women own mobile phones in Bangladesh. That is, the gap between women and men in ownership is close to 20%. However, the gap was 21% in the year before the last survey (2022). Apart from this, as many men use smartphones in the country, the number among women is half of that.

Many women in Bangladesh use the internet from other people's phones. Many women who have smartphones do not use the internet. According to GSMA, 40% of men and 24% of women in the country are using the internet on mobile phones. This rate is 53% and 37% in India, 69% and 63% in Indonesia, 53% and 33% in Pakistan.

Some 37% of men in the country know about using the Internet on mobile phones. Among women, this rate is 21%. They are comfortable using the internet on mobile phones. 

On the other hand, women in the country are more interested in using the internet than men. 

According to GSMA, 53% of women and 46% of men who use mobile internet in the country want to use the internet more.

However, the status of women has improved in internet use globally. The gap between men and women in this regard has decreased from 19% to 15% last year.

According to the report, 24% of women and 15% of men using mobile Internet in Bangladesh identified the high cost of data packages as an obstacle.

Despite the barriers, women in Kenya, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Ethiopia have shown more interest in using the Internet, GSMA said.

Both men and women in Bangladesh use mobile internet more for online calls, video calls and online entertainment, the report said. 

Some 55% of men and 45% of women read news online, 23% of men and 12% of women look for job and business information online. However, the internet is least used to find agricultural information. 

According to the GSMA, women in Bangladesh report more incidents of negative incidents using the internet than men. 74% of men and 65% of women in the country are primarily knowledgeable about staying safe online.

Women in Bangladesh have seen the strongest growth in mobile internet awareness since 2022, from 64% to 74%.

For the first time since GSMA started tracking it, women’s awareness in Bangladesh is in line with that of men’s (76%), highlighting the progress that has been made.

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