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How the Women’s Rights Online network is tackling the digital gender gap in 2017

Web Foundation · April 10, 2017

We’ve just held our third annual Women’s Rights Online (WRO) network meeting, which brought together partners from twelve countries working to bridge the gender gap in technology and ICT policymaking.

Our goal is to see evidence-based national ICT and gender plans established in a minimum of seven countries by 2020- and we use our cutting-edge household and policy research on the digital gender gap to work towards this goal.

We have been laying the foundations for this work for quite some time. To help us bridge the digital gender gap, in 2015, we sought to find out how women in urban, poor communities are accessing and using the web anthe size of the ICT gendegap in these communities. We found that women are 50% less likely to access the web than men, and once online, women are 30-50% less likely to use the web to access important information, seek economic opportunities or have their voices heard.

We followed this up in 2016 with a digital gender gap audit. Across the 10 countries covered in the first round of the audit, it is clear that policies and programmes related to women’s access and empowerment are not taking gender into account.

As a result we’ve created global and national action agendas on how governments can and must REACT to tackle growing digital gender inequality, and are keeping this at the core of our agenda for 2017.

How can we take action for digital gender equality-

Here’s a snapshot of what we’re up to:

  • We’re taking our message straight to policymakers. Our partners in Mozambique, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Philippines and Nigeria are hosting consultations with policy makers on gender responsive ICT policy, and delivering a roadmap of how to REACT to close the digital gender divide. Partners in Mozambique, Kenya and the Philippines have already held successful forums with ICT policy and other Ministerial leaders, which have featured national launches of country digital gender divide audits and deliberation on policy actions to be taken by government. Partners in Nigeria, Ghana and Mozambique are also working directly with national coalitions of the Alliance for Affordable Internet to address access and affordability barriers from a gender perspective.
  • In some cases, we’re working directly with governments. The government of Colombia expressed interest in using the Women’s Rights Online survey methodology as a reference to inform a nationwide study on women’s internet access and use. Our partner in Colombia, Fundacion Karisma, will continue to provide technical support and recommendations to the government throughout the process.
  • We’re working directly with women to bring their voices to governments. In Colombia, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and the Philippines, partners are hosting consultations with women’s groups to get their inputs on national ICT/broadband strategies, and then relay these demands to government Ministries.
  • We’re hands-on with digital training. Partners in Kenya, Cameroon, Egypt and the Philippines are training women, including community leaders and human rights defenders, to use ICTs and the internet strategically.
  • We’re keeping the gender gap top of the agenda at major international events. Catch us at the Internet Freedom Forum in LagosTransform Africa Summit, and the Stockholm Internet Forum where we are are convening sessions on gender and digital rights, an Africa Regional Workshop (pre-SIF), a panel on Digital Rights 2.0 and a Women in Tech Summit.
  • We’re conducting new research:
    • Our partner in India is undertaking country-level assessments of laws on technology-mediated violence against women and robustness of legal-institutional response mechanisms in India and Bangladesh.
    • In the Philippines our partner is undertaking a gender audit of government websites and e-government services.
    • We’re working on new digital gender gap audits for Cameroon, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Myanmar.

For updates on #WomensRightsOnline, follow us on twitter at @webfoundation, and keep up with our network partners:


Internet Sans Frontieres

International Association of Women in Radio and Television

Media Foundation for West Africa

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria

Science Innovation Information and Communication Technology Research Institute

Tadwein Gender Research Centre  

Women of Uganda Network  


IT for Change

Foundation for Media Alternatives

Myanmar ICT for Development Organisation

Latin America

Sulá Batsú

Fundacion Karisma  

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