IGF 2018 WS #156 What does the data say? Analyzing the Gender Digital Divide

Salle XI

Organizer 1: Claire Sibthorpe, GSMA
Organizer 2: Sharada Srinivasan, University of Pennsylvania
Organizer 3: Ursula Wynhoven, International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

Speaker 1: Aileen Agüero, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Speaker 2: Alison Gillwald, Civil Society, African Group

Speaker 3: Muge Haseki, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 4: Claire Sibthorpe, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 5: Helani Galpaya, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 6: Anja Kovacs, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Christopher Yoo

Online Moderator

Sharada Srinivasan


Muge Haseki


Round Table - 60 Min


We have invited both practitioners, researchers, and think tanks working in this space, along side business and inter-governmental representatives to highlight relevant research on the gender digital divide.


Organizers will ensure stakeholder group, gender and geographical diversity, as can be observed from the list of confirmed speakers. Gender balance has been encouraged through speaker choices and each speaker will bring unique expertise and experience to the topics discussed. Organizers will encourage remote participation on social media.

This session will look at both policies and practices that seek to empower women’s access and use of the internet. It will identify not just gaps but provide evidence on what works, and what does not. Part 1 - How is gender currently incorporated in ICT policies and practices? (Women's Rights Online Programme, A4AI, Research ICT Africa) Part 2 - What are different organisations doing in this space to increase women’s access and use to the internet ? (Amakomaya, Nepal; Claire Sibthorpe, Connected Women) Part 3 - Aggregating that research into policy-relevant insights (Muge Haseki)

The list below provides examples of the ways discussion will be facilitated amongst speakers, audience members, and online participants and ensure the session format is used to its optimum: Seating: Participants will sit around a large (circular) table (seating style permitting). Several roaming microphones will be used to facilitate discussion during the Q&A session (microphone availability permitting). This will facilitate discussion by creating an enabling and comfortable atmosphere where all speakers and participants are given an equal footing in the discussion. The moderator may walk around the room to engage participants as well. Media: We may consider use of images and Powerpoint presentations to aid those whose native language may not be English. Video material may also be considered to help engage remote participants. Preparation: Two preparatory calls and a preparatory meeting onsite will be organised for all speakers, moderators and co-organisers in advance of the workshop so that everyone has a chance to meet, share views and prepare for the session. Given the varied background of discussants and audience members, organisers will explore introducing some questions online in order to kickstart some discussion on social media in the run up to the workshop. The remote moderator will play an important role in sharing the ideas of remote speakers/participants and will encourage interventions through video. During the open discussion sections, open questions will encourage responses from participants and everyone will be given equal weight and equal opportunity to intervene. Walk-in participants will be encouraged to participate in the discussion by the moderator who will seek contributions from participants in person and remotely. Reporting: During the session summary, in order to encourage diverse contributions, the moderator willanimate discussion between experts and participants to help conclude and generate suggestions for possible next steps.

This panel highlights the  findings of the #AfterAccess (http://afteraccess.net/) survey conducted in 20 countries across the Global South in 2017 and 2018, as well as 1 World Connected case studies of initiatives that are trying to connect unconnected communities with a focus on enabling access to women. This panel  contributes to the current discussion on ICT gender inequalities in the Global South (Africa, Asia and Latin America). The findings of the nationally representative After Access survey provide a rare demand side view of gender differences in access and importantly ICT use in pre-paid mobile markets that characterises the Global South. Further, insights will be provided from case studies on some projects that are currently deployed in the field, and lessons that can learnt from them will be discussed . Gender inequality can also be located at the intersection of other inequalities such as class (income/education), race, location (urban/rural). This goes some way to nuancing conceptions of women and men, rather than treating them as homogenous groups as is done in much of the quantitative research and global indices on gender and ICTs.


Moreover, the modelling of the data enables us to move beyond the descriptive statistics that can mask such inequalities to identify the of drivers of inequality,  enabling more targeted policy interventions. The complementary case studies reveal the deeply entrenched drivers of inequality such as social and cultural norms, as well as attitudes towards women that  need to be taken into account when analysing women’s access and use of ICT that cannot be ascertained from quantitative studies. The discussants will also refer to focus groups conducted to further examine some of the findings of the surveys and to identify other explanations of gender inequality. There is also a clear need to discuss the mechanics of current interventions and policies, informed by evidence from actual experiences and case studies. This session seeks to present such research and experiences from the field, and discuss the ways that they can inform gender-responsive ICT policies

Online Participation

The remote moderator will be involved throughout workshop planning to advise on where remote participation will need to be facilitated. The moderator will frequently communicate with the remote moderator throughout the session to ensure remote participants’ views/questions are reflected. As the remote moderator is one of the organizers and has extensive experience in online moderation at the IGF in the past, she will communicate with the onsite moderator and make necessary interventions during the workshop. The online moderator will also participate in training sessions for remote participation at IGF to ensure they have all the necessary information. As noted above, during the Q&A session, the remote moderator will animate the remote participation group. This will ensure remote participants are given the opportunity to interact with multiple experts remotely. Co-organizers will ensure that the workshop is promoted in advance to the wider community to give remote participants the opportunity to prepare questions and interventions in advance and to generate interest in the workshop. This would involve engagement through social media and our website. Organizers will also explore organizing a remote intervention from youth participants through remote hubs.

Session Time
Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

- Session Type (Workshop, Open Forum, etc.): Round table 

- Title: WS #156 What does the data say? Analyzing the Gender Digital Divide

- Date & Time: Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 09:00 to 10:30

- Organizer(s): 

- Organizer 1: Claire Sibthorpe, GSMA

- Organizer 2: Sharada Srinivasan, University of Pennsylvania    

- Organizer 3: Ursula Wynhoven, International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

- Chair/Moderator:

    - Onsite Moderator: Judith Mariscal

    - Online Moderator: Sharada Srinivasan

- Rapporteur/Notetaker:

- Muge Haseki 

- List of speakers and their institutional affiliations (Indicate male/female/ transgender male/ transgender female/gender variant/prefer not to answer):

- Speaker 1: Aileen Agüero, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

- Speaker 2: Alison Gillwald, Civil Society, African Group

- Speaker 3: Muge Haseki, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

- Speaker 4: Claire Sibthorpe, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

- Speaker 5: Helani Galpaya, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

- Theme (as listed here): Human Rights, Gender & Youth 

- Subtheme (as listed here): Gender Equality 

- Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion. [300-500 words]

Some key messages from the discussion were the following:

1.    There is a gender gap in phone ownership and Internet use in countries of Asia and Africa such as Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Rwanda and Mozambique; according to the After Access survey, it exceeds 30%. However, regarding the urban-rural gap, South American countries also show large gaps which indicates that there are more challenges besides the gender dimension. In this sense, it is important to recognize and identify the importance of equality in the access and use of the Internet for social and economic development of groups with disadvantages, in this case women and their adequate inclusion in the contemporary world. In addition, these gaps mask deeper issues that must be studied considering additional methods such as qualitative research.

2.    Data analysis at the regional level shows that education and income are important determinants of gender inequality in Internet use. This would indicate that women are less likely to use this service, which is further supported by the findings that women lag behind men in using the internet for various purposes such as social networks or transport and e-commerce applications. In short, people with higher levels of income and education are more likely to be online in these regions, besides other factors such as social or cultural norms. 

3.    The data shows that it is important to work in providing an adequate infrastructure that allows to expand coverage, as well as to focus on barriers to use the Internet such as affordability. In this sense, case studies show potential in providing insights on the challenges and lessons from grassroots projects that are currently deployed in the field.

- Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence. [300 words] Examples: There was broad support for the view that…; Many [or some] indicated that…; Some supported XX, while others noted YY…; No agreement…

During the panel, some discussions emerged about topics with great relevance, such as intersectionality, skills and cultural factors that contribute to digital inequality.

First, some people indicated that the non-binary conceptions of gender should be considered, that is, people who have a different gender identity  that is not  masculine or feminine. In other words, it is important to go beyond the binary gender conceptions and not only focus on inequality between men and women.

Traditional binary gender indicators also tended to treat women as a homogeneous group, whereas from an access, and beyond access perspective poor men and women were more likely to have issues in common, than women across different income and education levels.

In the discussion it was agreed that gender should be seen as a transversal issue, with the requirement of the cooperation of multiple actors to face the challenges of each particular reality.

Another debate developed as a consequence of the first discussion. There was broad support for the opinion that intersectionality is relevant to understanding the different levels of marginalisation of people and its effect on the use of the Internet. Thereby, intersectionality helps to separate more accurately the different realities in which people find themselves and provides better insights into the policy intervention required to redress digital exclusion. 

Finally, some of the methodological issues were raised with regards to very different claims about gender inequality. The importance of demand side surveys was identified as the only way to move beyond descriptive statistics which besides often not being accurate, in their national aggregation mask national and other inequalities within categories of people.  Nationally representative surveying enabled the modelling of data that could reveal the underlying factors determining inequality.  However, there are many questions that cannot be answered by quantitative methods. The challenges and importance of assessing non-quantifiable  factors, such as culture in  explaining digital inequality  was raised and the importance of qualitative methods better able to elicit this evidence highlighted. 

- Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps. [200 words]

Some suggestions for policy recommendations are:

1.    Consider the elaboration of quantitative and qualitative research where either do not exist, because they are complementary and necessary to provide more holistic explanation for digital inequality.

2.    Keep in mind what the drivers of digital inequality are and what women and men with particular characteristics experience, because neither is a homogeneous group.

3.    Understand the dangers of ICT use for women; for example, harassment or some type of online violence against women.

4.    Examine and study the demand side of ICT, not only access and use, but also other factors, such as digital literacy or education, which are determinants for digital inclusion and the reduction of digital gender inequality.

5.    Analyse the stimulants of the demand of ICT devices, such as the reduction of taxes or tariffs of the Internet, mobile phones, etc.; in such a way that the income barrier can be reduced and both men and women can connect to the digital world, as well as the reduction of the gender gap in Internet access.

- What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue? [150 words]

The issue of gender and, particularly, gender inequality online should be considered as a reflection of offline structural inequalities, that is, inequalities according to income, education, geographical location, etc.

- Please estimate the total number of participants. 


- Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present.

Impossible to determine but predominantly women.

- To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion? [100 words] Focus of the session.

In particular, the relevant gender issues in the session discussed were the consideration of non-binary gender both for analysis purposes as well as for policy recommendations. 

- Session outputs and other relevant links (URLs):