Digital Revolution for Asia's Women: Bridging the Gender Divide

Feature | 28 April 2014

Though the use of internet and mobile phones has skyrocketed over the past years, women in developing Asian countries are being left behind by the digital revolution. This is holding them back and costing society and the economy dear.

1.3 billion: The estimated number of internet users in Asia and the Pacific as of 2013, which represents an internet penetration rate of 31.9%. In Europe, the internet penetration rate is 74.7%, while in the Americas 60.8%. Internet penetration rate is commonly defined as the percentage of population using the internet.
Source: International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Key ICT indicators for developed and developing countries and the world 2006-2013.

600 million: The number of women and girls in developing countries using the internet. This figure is deceivingly large, as it belies a significant difference between men and women in terms of access to the Internet. In South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, nearly 35% fewer women than men have access to the internet. In Central Asia, the number is nearly 30% and in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 45%.
Source: Intel. 2012. Women and the Web.

21%: The percentage of women who are less likely to own a mobile phone than men in low and middle-income countries. In South Asia, the figure goes up to 37%. The gender digital divide, i.e., the gap between men and women in terms of access to Information and Communication Technologies is still large.
Source: GSMA. Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity.

9 in 10: The number of women who feel more secure, connected, and productive because of their mobile phone.
Source: GSMA. Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity.

350,000: The number of women using mobile phones commercially by the end of 2008 as a result of the Village Phone program of Grameenphone. 58,500 new phones were distributed in rural areas in Bangladesh as part of this ADB-supported project.
Source: ADB Success Story. A mobile revolution.

50: The number of community e-centers in Bhutan that are helping adolescent girls in rural areas learn computer skills and programming.
Source: ADB Gender Projects and Initiatives.

Up to $18 billion: The estimated increase in gross domestic product across developing countries if the number of women and girls accessing the internet is doubled to 1.2 billion in 3 years.
Source: Intel. 2012. Women and the Web.