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CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 - Asian Development Bank

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 - Asian Development Bank

Why a gender focus is critical to connectivity

Web Foundation · September 26, 2017

Leaders around the globe have declared their commitment to making universal, affordable internet access a reality for all. But are they taking the action needed to connect the unconnected? Our latest report — produced in collaboration with the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) — specifically examines whether countries are putting into place the policy efforts needed to connect women, who comprise the majority of today’s offline population, and provides the most recent global assessment of national ICT and broadband policies.

No country will achieve universal internet access without overcoming the digital gender gap. This gap is primarily a result of policy failure and, unfortunately, the report — REACT with Gender-Responsive ICT Policy: The Key to Connecting the Next 4 Billion — finds that only a few governments have taken any action at the policy level to increase internet access and use among women. This research outlines the steps that governments must take to develop and implement gender-responsive policies that address the unique barriers to internet access and use faced by women, and calls on policymakers to REACT. That is, to create policy with women and for women focusing on:


Rights: Protecting and enhancing everyone’s rights online

Education: Using education to equip everyone with the skills needed to access and use the web effectively.

Access: Delivering affordable access to an open internet.

Content: Ensuring relevant content is available and used.

Targets: Keeping policymakers accountable to the promises they’ve made.


Following this framework will lead to better, more effective broadband policies. In turn, women’s internet access and use will improve and we will see concrete progress made toward achieving universal access goals.

Learn more about the progress that has been made so far and what steps policymakers should be looking to take next by reviewing the full brief.


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