IGF 2018 WS #411
Understanding the ICT Gender Gap in the Global South


Organizer 1: Alison Gillwald, Research ICT Africa/Univeristy of Cape Town
Organizer 2: Aileen Agüero García, DIRSI / Institute for Peruvian Studies (Instituto de Estudios Peruanos)

Speaker 1: Alison Gillwald, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Helani Galpaya, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Anja Kovacs, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Claire Sibthorpe, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Aileen Agüero García, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Ruhiya Seward

Online Moderator

Chenai Chair


Anri van der Spui


Round Table - 90 Min


Through active moderation, the representatives from the three regions under analysis together with speakers from both civil society (Internet Democracy Project) and the industry (GSMA) will discuss the #AfterAccess findings on gender with eachother and the audience, and the implications for policy, in a roundtable format.
All the speakers have already confirmed their participation and interest.
Representatives from think-thanks in the three regions:

1. Alison Gillwald (RIA - Africa)
Alison Gillwald (PhD) is the Executive Director of Research ICT Africa (RIA). She headed the policy department at the first broadcasting regulator in South Africa, the Independent Broadcasting Authority established in the wake of the first democratic elections in 1994. Subsequently, she was appointed to the founding Council of the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA).
Alison has played an advisory role to several African and regional bodies including the Ministry of Communication on the South Africa’s Broadband Plan: SA Connect, the African Development Bank and the Government of Mauritius on the i-Mauritius broadband policy. She has worked extensively with multilateral agencies such as the International Telecommunications Union, UNCTAD and the World Bank.
She served on the first ITU Task Force on Gender Issues set up in 2001 to develop gender-aware guidelines for policy-making and regulatory agencies and on the Partnership on Measuring the Information Society Task Group on Gender to develop standard indicators for measuring gender inequality in relation to ICT and which drew extensively on the sex disaggregated statistics and gender modelling in relation to ICT access and use undertaken by Research ICT Africa for more than a decade across Africa.

2. Aileen Aguero (DIRSI - Latin America)
Aileen Agüero García is a researcher at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (Institute of Peruvian Studies), a private non-profit organisation based in Lima, Peru.
Aileen has been involved in several research projects in the areas of broadband development, telecommunications universal service, ICT and productivity, ICT and poverty, mobile banking, digital television, competition and regulation (telecommunications, electricity and transport), women in rural areas, public banks and rural finance, among others. Her work pays special attention to the integration of quantitative and qualitative approaches.

3. Helani Galpaya (LIRNEasia - Asia)
Helani Galpaya is CEO of LIRNEasia, a think tank working on ICT policy and regulatory issues across the emerging Asia Pacific.
She researches and engages in public discourse on issues related to net neutrality, policy and regulatory barriers in Internet access, e-Government and broadband quality of service. She also studies and speaks on how knowledge and information disseminated via ICTs can improve inclusiveness of SMMEs (small, medium and micro enterprises) in global agriculture value chains, and how labour is changing due to digitisation. Helani is currently researching how experiences and perceptions of harassment, surveillance and privacy impact the way men and women experience the Internet, and how online identity helps or hinders their digital and political participation.
She serves on the Board of Editors of the Information Technology and International Development journal, the Board of Directors of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) and was an Advisor to the UN Broadband Commission’s Working Group on Bridging the Gender Divide.

Other speakers:

4. Claire Sibthorpe (GSMA)
Claire is the Head of Connected Women Programme (GSMA) which is focused on accelerating digital and financial inclusion for women and works with mobile operators and their partners to address the barriers to women accessing and using mobile internet and mobile money services. Claire has been working for 20 years with public, private and international development organisations on social policy and service delivery with a focus on ICT policy and practice. She has developed, managed and implemented programmes in Africa, Asia and the UK including as a senior consultant at Atos KPMG Consulting and at IDRC. Claire holds an MSc in Social Research Methods (2012) and an MSc in Social Policy and Planning in Developing Countries (1997) from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

5. Anja Kovach (Internet Democracy Project)
Dr. Anja Kovacs directs the Internet Democracy Project in Delhi, India, which works for an Internet that supports free speech, democracy and social justice in India and beyond. Anja’s research and advocacy focuses especially on questions regarding freedom of expression, cybersecurity and the architecture of Internet governance. She has been a member of the of the Investment Committee of the Digital Defenders Partnership and of the Steering Committee of Best Bits, a global network of civil society members. She has also worked as an international consultant on Internet issues, including for the Independent Commission on Multilateralism, the United Nations Development Programme Asia Pacific and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Mr. Frank La Rue, as well as having been a Fellow at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, India.


First of all, this roundtable takes into account diversity by including three different representatives from Africa, Asia and Latin America (The Global South). Additionally, it considers the perspective of two important stakeholders such as civil society (Internet Democracy Project) and the industry (GSMA)
Taking all these views into account allows for a holistic approach to better understand the complexity of the gender issue in ICT, as well as thinking about better policy options in this regard.
Finally, the views expressed will be given by women, in a context in which all-male panels prevail.

The session will be developed with the following structure:
1. High-level gender ICT findings in the Global South
The first part compares core ICT indicators from a gender perspective among regions. These include gender gaps in mobile phone ownership, mobile applications, internet use, mobile money, social media, among others.
2. Africa
Though Internet use is still relatively low in most countries in Africa, there has been a significant leap from 2008 to 2017. Women, however, still lag significantly behind men in the use of the Internet other than in South Africa. This is also linked to their relatively low levels of education and, as a result, income. In this sense, for seven African countries (Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana and Nigeria), using regression analysis techniques, the role of education, income, age, location and marital status in mobile phone ownership and internet use are explained. Some of the countries that rank highest in various gender equity and ICT indices and best practice cases are in fact perform the poorest of the Africa countries surveyed. Rwanda has the lowest Internet penetration at less than 10% and the high gender gap of 60% - which is only exceeded by Bangladesh and is far above the large gap in the populous countries in Asia and Africa that display large gender gaps such as India and Nigeria.
3. Asia
The five Asian countries (India, Cambodia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar) in the #AfterAccess project present a sobering picture of gender inequality. Two of them (India and Pakistan) account for the highest gender gap in mobile ownership among all the Global South. Bangladesh is not far behind in poor performance.
Based on descriptive statistics, probabilistic regression models and qualitative data, the role of education, income and cultural factors in differences in ICT adoption between women and men are analysed.
4. Latin America
The ICT field is not an exception in terms of gender inequality in Latin America. The possibility to access and use the Internet is not evenly distributed between men and women, and factors such as early motherhood, gender-based violence, gendered division of household labour could play a fundamental role in explaining gender differences in ICT use. However, the existing literature about this topic is scarce, especially in Latin America, especially when attempting to include all the different dimensions that ICT use involve (mobile ownership, mobile use experience, mobile apps use, e-banking and e-commerce, Internet use, type of Internet use, among others). In this sense, this part of the roundtable presents the factors that determine the gender ICT use gap, integrating the different dimensions that ICT use involve, in Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Paraguay and Peru.
5. Discussion with the audience and concluding remarks

The suggested format considers 45 minutes for the discussion among the 5 speakers, and another 45 minutes for the discussion/questions with the general audience.
Onsite and online moderators will take this into account and will encourage the audience to express their views. Both have the required experience to perform this task.

This roundtable adds to the previous discussions in different IGF sessions, which have tried to highlight, from different perspectives, the importance of gender inclusion in the information economy and society. Central to the call for digital equality are claims that the Internet has the potential to be a driver of accelerated progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal 5b specifically identifies the enhanced “…use of enabling technology, in particular ICTs, to promote the empowerment of women”, while SDG 9C is concerned with promoting universal ICT access and goal 17.6 with promoting global collaboration on and access to science, technology and innovation.
Yet currently we do not have data to paint an accurate picture of ICT penetration. Even if we made progress towards the targets we would not know in the case of most countries in the Global South, whose access is predominantly through pre-paid mobile services, for example. Supply side figures for Internet used at the global level simply measure the number of SIM cards sold, not unique subscribers. They are therefore highly inflated. This kind of data also cannot be disaggregated by sex, income levels or education, or even by the urban and rural location of users. Descriptive indicators can mask digital inequalities between men and women and other factors determining the uneven take-up of ICT.
The #AfterAccess (http://afteraccess.net/) survey conducted in 20 countries across the Global South in 2017 and 2018 goes some way to addressing some of these challenges. Demand side surveys are the only way to get data beyond connectivity on who the user is, what they are using the Internet for, how much they spend on the Internet or whether they have the know-how to use this service to improve their lives or to protect themselves from harm. As the surveys are nationally-representative, sex disaggregated data can be linked to other indicators such as income, education, location, age, enabling the identification of key points of policy intervention for addressing the ICT use gender gap in the Global South.
This roundtable aims to contribute to the current discussion on ICT gender inequalities in the Global South (Africa, Asia and Latin America). The findings to be discussed provide an accurate picture of gender differences in access and importantly ICT use. 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 as homogenous groups that have plagued much of the quantitative research and grand claims in this area. Moreover, there are deeply entrenched drivers of inequality such as social and cultural norms, as well as attitudes towards women that do 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.

Online Participation

There is a much wider community of interest in the survey, the gender dimensions of it, and the policy implications. Dozens of government, regulatory and statistical officers that collaborated on the survey, together with the students in many countries who undertook the survey or have used the data in the regions, who will not be able to be present have expressed their interest in active, on-line participation. For this reason we have secured an experienced online moderator who has a good understanding of the research and policy issues and who will be able to intervene and engage on behalf of those online.

Reference Document: http://afteraccess.net