Accelerating Digital and
Financial Inclusion for Women
Mobile has the power to transform lives. But while access is spreading quickly, it is not spreading equally. There remains a significant gender gap in mobile phone ownership and use. It is critical that we work together to address this issue to advance women’s digital and financial inclusion for women and unlock significant commercial and socio-economic opportunities. When women thrive, societies, businesses and economies thrive.
We have an opportunity to contribute to the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls through mobile. This supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG #5 (Gender Equality).
Mobile can make women more connected, safer and able to access services such as health and financial services. A GSMA study showed that in each of the 15 low- and middle-income countries surveyed:
• 58% – 90% of female mobile owners agreed that having a mobile phone helps them in their day-to-day work, studies or household chores
• 54% – 91% of female mobile owners agreed that having a mobile phone makes them feel safer
• 53% – 94% of female mobile owners agreed that having a mobile phone provides access to useful information that is otherwise hard to get
But there is a significant gender gap in mobile phone ownership and use, particularly for more transformational services like mobile internet and mobile money. Women in low- and middle-income countries are, on average, 7% less likely to own a mobile phone than men, 15% less likely to use mobile internet and 33% less likely to use mobile money. The gender gap is wider in certain parts of the world – e.g. women in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are 36% and 37%, respectively, less likely than men to use mobile internet.
Closing the gender gap also represents a significant market opportunity for the mobile industry and can spur economic growth. We estimated that closing the gender gap in low- and middle-income countries between 2019 and 2023 represented a $140bn revenue opportunity for the mobile industry over those five years.
To close the mobile gender gap we need to address issues of gender equality and social norms. Research conducted by the GSMA has identified five key barriers that should be addressed to increase mobile ownership and mobile internet use among women.
Click on each of the five barriers below to learn more in our blog series:
The barriers preventing women from accessing mobile technology are complex and cannot be addressed by mobile operators alone. Bridging the mobile gender gap requires action and collaboration between the international community, policymakers and regulators, and the mobile industry.
Click on the tiles below to read the GSMA’s top recommendations for each key stakeholder to close the mobile gender gap. For more in-depth insights, download ‘Reaching 50 Million Women with Mobile: A Practical Guide‘.
The Mobile Industry
- Understand your gender gap and the women in your market by conducting consumer insights research and collecting and analysing gender disaggregated data. (Learn more in this blog.)
- Make women part of your business strategy including setting KPIs to target women.
- Ensure your products, services, marketing and distribution consider women’s needs and the barriers they face to mobile access and use.
The Development Community
- Embed activities that drive women’s mobile access and use in your initiatives.
- Invest in research to better understand women’s mobile access and use and how to reduce the gender gap.
- Raise awareness of the barriers to women’s mobile access and use.
Policymakers and Regulators
- Ensure appropriate policy and regulation to lower access barriers for women.
- Promote gender equality in education and invest in programmes that improve digital literacy for women and girls.
- Improve women’s safety on mobile through effective policies and strategies including legal frameworks and awareness campaigns.
Click on the tabs below to access all our Connected Women interviews and related documents setting out key recommendations for action:
Hear from leading advocates on why digital and financial inclusion of women is so important and why closing the mobile gender gap is something we must address.