If you're perusing the Internet today, then know you're enjoying a privilege that not every woman has—digital access. 

Over 200 million girls in the developing world are behind because of internet access limitations. What if these ladies could go online?

The internet access gap is enormous and continues to expand between men and women across regions and worldwide.

Who is Online? 

According to a survey conducted by the Web Foundation, over four billion people (60% of the world's population) still don't have an Internet connection. Nine out of them do not have internet access in the developing world.

Graphics showing the millions of online connections in Europe, North America, and East Asia "lighting up" while Africa and South Asia wallow in almost all darkness, sometimes showing this digital split.

Gender alone is an important issue. Women are roughly 50% less likely to use the Internet than males to monitor the effects of education and household wealth.

Digital Access and How Gender Remains an Issue

That means that the image that emerges is not a pale digital exclusion or pure digital development but a severe digital inequality. Urban men connect at rates expected in wealthier nations, whereas digital inequality primarily excludes the poorest girls with minimal education from the World Wide Web.

So What Determines Who has Digital Access?

1. Education

Education is an essential predictor of how impoverished urban women use the Internet. Income control is six times more likely to be online for females with secondary education than females with no elementary education.

According to a recent study, at least some secondary education is a staggering 92% of females who use the Internet. Only 2% of females without training are online.

 Only 6% fewer females than males are online among those with higher education. The gender difference is 35% among those with high school, but it rises to 100% for those with primary education. Nearly ten times the number of men and women who have no formal education is online.

 Education is also a crucial element for men's online access, albeit not as strong as for women. Males who do not have formal education use the Internet 25% less than men who attend elementary school. Twice as many secondary-school males as primary-school men are online. 

Digital Access and How Gender Remains an Issue

2. Wage 

The poorer the people, the less probable they are to use the Internet. Only 21% of females in the lowest income category use the Internet. The medium group comprises 39% females, and the highest group includes 44% females. 

The internet connection difference between the sexes is least among the poorest and most prominent in the middle. But males are still more likely to be online at all income levels than females.

Digital Access and How Gender Remains an Issue

What Obstacles do Women Perceive?

Digital Access and How Gender Remains an Issue

1. Knowledge 

Overall, females identify lack of skills as a barrier to Internet use 1.6 times more frequently than men. However, with more excellent training, women's confidence in their digital skills increases substantially. It is down to 9% of men, and 18% of women have a high school education. Barely 3% of men and 5% of women have a university education.

2. Cost 

The second major cost issue for unconnected females was "I can't afford it," or "it's too costly." Younger females between 18 and 29, especially females in the lowest income category, believe the cost is an issue. A Jakarta lady business owner said, "I want to learn how to use the Internet, but it still costs a lot [mobile data], and I'm not using Wi-Fi in my neighborhood. 

Over one-third (36%) of males have identified costs as a critical obstacle to higher usage, while 28% of non-users have reported this.

This male-female discrepancy might reflect an increased understanding of the cost of data amongst males. But among Internet users, 76% of females reported paying for their online connection (compared to 85% of males); thus, they probably knew the prices well.

3. Infrastructure 

The fourth major obstacle for both women and men, who are already online, was the availability or quality of connection and energy to charge gadgets. However, as predicted, in areas such as 3G/4G coverage, the relevance of city-by-city infrastructural obstacles varies. 

It most likely reflects city-by-city differences, spectrum access, quality of service regulation, electrification supply, and access to free public Wi-Fi. 

In the research, Maputo (16% female) was the city, followed by New Delhi and Manila, where females cite infrastructural impediments (7 percent of women in each case).

4. Access to internet-enabled devices 

Mobile telephone is by far the most popular means for women and men, and about nine out of 10 surveys had their phones (with little difference between women and men).

Also, with 43% of women and 49% of men, phones in all genders who have smartphones are exceptionally high. However, this differs from town to town since women's internet use is likewise the lowest in regions with common smartphone ownership.

5. Other reasons

I can't use the web, or it is unpleasant/unsuitable for me: In all cities, a negligible number of women and men mentioned 'appropriation' or non-approval as the fundamental barrier. My privacy concerns me: I'm worried. Very few interlocutors in any town have said they don't use the internet because privacy worries them.

RELATED READ - Gender in Entrepreneurship: Does it Still Matter in 2023?

Final Note

Digital women's involvement will also contribute to the catalyst of greater gender equality in business across social, economic, and political spheres, benefiting women and their communities and their economy.

The gender digital divide will not close on its own. As we all know, societal and cultural hurdles that only our collective drive can overcome complicate and drive the fundamental causes.