The Web has been held up as a powerful tool to help women claim and defend their rights, but it has been estimated that 25% fewer women than men use the Web in developing countries, with this gap widening to 45% in sub-Saharan Africa (Intel Women and the Web Study).
This gender gap in technology has become a hot topic of discussion, but to date only a limited amount of research has been carried out to determine what the barriers to access are. Beyond the gap in terms of access, we also know relatively little about how women use the Web, and how it can best be used as a tool for empowering women to realise their rights and improve their lives.
That’s why the Web Foundation, with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), has undertaken research across nine countries* in Africa, Asia and Latin America to broaden the body of knowledge on this subject, to be released in October. In this study, we wanted to go beyond just looking at women’s access to the Web and also learn about women’s participation and experiences while using the Web. We decided to focus our study on poor individuals in urban areas – as these people are most likely to be able to access the Web owing to better connectivity and electricity supply, and wider public broadband availability in urban areas.
We’ve teamed up with research partners in each country to carry out this study. We’ve been inspired by our country partners, who work tirelessly to get women and girls online, and ensure that once they are there it is a safe space. As part of our Women’s Rights Online project, we’ve shared on-the-ground stories and perspectives from from our partners through this blog series. Links to each blog will be provided in the list below as they are published.
We know that our newfound insights and experiences will teach us more about the online gender gap, and will help policymakers, activists and others unlock the Web’s true potential for women. Stay tuned for more updates and stories on our blog and follow us on Twitter @webfoundation and Facebook using the hashtag #womensrightsonline or subscribe to our email newsletter.
The full research brief on the project is available here for download.
*The study is being conducted in ten countries. Due to timeline constraints, the results for Egypt will be released separately at a later date.