KARACHI: Pakistan’s gender gap in mobile ownership and usage happens to be the widest in the world, a global telecoms lobby GSMA finds in a survey, indicating a need to revisit priorities to get women emancipation and let them have due economic benefits.
GSMA survey on Thursday showed that gender gap in mobile ownership in Pakistan is 38 percent with 81 percent of male adult population owning mobile phones compared to women whose half alone hold them.
The narrowest gender gap was found in Indonesia (10pc), followed by Myanmar (14pc), India (20pc), and Bangladesh (29pc). Gender gap in mobile internet usage is also smallest in Indonesia (14pc), compared to Myanmar (30pc), Pakistan (49pc), India (50pc) and Bangladesh (52pc).
UK-based GSM Association represents interest of more than 750 telecom operators and 400 companies from around the world. The findings of this report are sourced from the annual GSMA intelligence consumer survey had more than 16,000 respondents from 15 low and middle income countries (LMICs).
“Of the countries surveyed, the widest gender gap is in Pakistan, where women are 38 per cent less likely than men to own a mobile and 49 percent less likely to use mobile internet,” GSMA said in “the mobile gender gap report 2020”.
GSMA believes closing the gender gap in mobile internet use could deliver monetary stimulus to GDP growth and additional revenue to mobile industry.
The third edition of annual survey found that mobile internet awareness has increased 30 percent in two years. Total 70 percent of women population in Pakistan was found aware of mobile internet in 2019 as opposed to 39 percent in 2017.
The survey found that 37 percent of male population own smartphone as compared to women (20pc). In Pakistan, lack of family approval was found as a key impediment for women to mobile ownership and use.
“…while disapproval by family members is not a top barrier in most markets, for women in Bangladesh and particularly in Pakistan, it is an extremely important factor grounded in conservative social norms that govern many women’s choices and behaviour,” it said.
Despite a gigantic 2.9 billion people in LMICs having access to internet via mobile phone, mobile internet is at a far distance for women there than men due mainly to low availability of smartphones with the former. “Across LMICs, women are still eight per cent less likely than men to own a mobile phone, and 20 percent less likely to use the internet on a mobile,” GSMA said. “This means that in these markets 300 million fewer women than men use mobile internet.”
Even among mobile owners, mobile phone usage differs substantially between men and women. In Pakistan, men use an average of four use cases on a weekly basis, and women three.
In South Asia, the mobile internet gender gap has narrowed from 67 per cent in 2017 to 51 per cent in 2019, bringing another 78 million women online. “Much work remains, but this suggests mobile gender gaps can be reduced and the benefits of connectivity distributed more equally,” GSMA said in the report.