'Only 37% of poor women use internet on phone'(BENGALURU)!!
BENGALURU: Have mobile phones empowered women digitally? One may want to believe so but the virtual world seems to be a reflection of the real world. Women in poor urban areas are 50% less likely than men to access the web on their phones, a recent survey by the Web Foundation has found.
Only 37% of poor urban women (vis-a-vis 59% of men) surveyed use internet on their mobile phones, says the study Women's Rights Online, Translating Access into Empowerment.
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The reason: lack of know-how and high costs. For, one gigabyte of data costs as much as 76% of monthly poverty line incomes in the nine developing countries including India, where the survey was conducted.
"Just the dramatic spread of mobile phones is not enough to get women online, or to achieve empowerment of women through technology," the study says. Once online, women are 30%-50% less likely than men to use the Internet to increase their income or participate in public life, the study adds. "Maintaining existing family and neighbourhood ties through social media is the main Internet activity for urban poor women, with 97% of male and female Internet users surveyed using social media."
Ingrid Brudvig, author of the study, says that there is a real risk of online social networks simply recreating the inequalities that poor women face in the real world, rather than helping them to open up new horizons.
Web Foundation CEO Anne Jellema says: "Most poor urban women are confined to an ICT ghetto that does little to help them break out of the real ghetto of poverty and discrimination."
Governments, she said, "need to make digital skills the right of every girl and boy as part of a wider commitment to quality education for all...and develop strategies that aim to increase women's civic, political and economic power through technology."
Rajani S S, who has been working with waster-pickers and other urban poor for over 10 years, says: "One must keep in mind the literacy rates. Just urban growth does not mean urban development."