One of our interests in researching ed-tech users in low-income schools is female access to technology and the Internet in India.
Intel and Dalberg recently released a detailed and informative report, “Women and the Web,” on Internet access for women in developing countries, with a focus on India. Their global study found that nearly 35 percent fewer women than men have Internet access.
Dalberg’s study looked closely at Indian women, whom are less likely to have Internet access, at 8%, than the women in any of their other focus countries. For example, Internet penetration for women and girls in Egypt was 32%, and 9% in Uganda.
Internet use in India is not just low among women. India has a population of 1.1 billion but only 10.2% use the Internet, the majority in urban areas despite the fact that nearly 70% of Indians live in rural areas. Less than 4% of India’s rural population uses the Internet, according to the June 2012 report Internet in Rural India.
Dalberg found that among non-Internet users, Indian women are the most likely, at 38%, to find lack of comfort and familiarity with technology as a reason to not use the Internet.
A major barrier to Internet access for women, and especially young girls, is that they believe the Internet is inappropriate for them. One in five women in India and Egypt believe this to be true, according to Dalberg’s study. Affordability is also a challenge.
In our own research, we found boys much more likely than girls to have used the Internet. Only 14% of 9th grade girls in Hyderabad’s APS have access to the Internet. This is 40% less than the number of their 9th grade male counterparts who have access to the Internet. In addition, many school owners see the value the Internet can bring to education, but also fear improper use by children and want to limit access.
As Dalberg notes in their report, Internet access for women enhances economic freedom, political participation, and social inclusion, as well as increased income generation opportunities, mobility, and greater access to services. One way to introduce women to the benefits of the Internet at a younger age is through education technology. Many ed-tech solutions, such as tablets, now enable Internet access. It’s also interesting to note that Internet access for the developing world may become most prominent via mobiles, rather than computers. However, India’s infrastructure problems, such as power outages and slow 2G and 3G networks, and the high cost of Internet for low-income households, will continue to hinder Internet access for women.
Check out the full Dalberg report here. Stay tuned for our final report, which examines girls’ access to technology in low-income communities and school perceptions and use of the Internet.