Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 5.40.39 PMAccording to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), far fewer women use the internet than men worldwide. The graph to the left reflects the following data:

Globally, 37% of all women are online, compared with 41% of all men. This corresponds to 1.3 billions women and 1.5 billion men.

The gender gap is more pronounced in the developing world, where 16% fewer women than men use the internet, compared with only 2% fewer women than in the developed world.

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 6.30.15 PMIn most developing countries, women’s participation in the labor market is substantially lower compared with that of men. In India, Nigeria and South Africa, more than 75% of all girls aged 15-24 are not engaged in paid work and are not looking for work. Girls’ unemployment imposes significant annual productivity losses. National economies can grow from 0.8-5.4% annually if employment levels for women are equal to those of men.

In many countries girls take on domestic responsibilities, including the care of younger siblings, and, depending on the country and the culture, boys often receive preferences when choices have to be made regarding education. For example, in most African countries, such as Kenya, girls may experience domestic work overload, which reduces their interest in pursuing education. Since it is commonly expected that girls should be married off at an early age, parents consider educating their daughters a waste of time and money. The girls are aware of their parents’ perceptions regarding their education. They do not find it necessary to work hard because they assume that they will probably drop out of school early.

The charts at the right indicate some of the challenges faced in lower-income countries attempting to achieve greater gender parity in the use of various forms of technology. The lower graph shows drastic gender inequality in the use of smartphones. In many countries, the use of a cellphone by a woman can be viewed as a sign of promiscuity, thereby creating the perception that society looks down on any use of cellphones by women.

Gender Inequality in Education

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Data from 24 low-income countries reveal that on average only 34% of girls in the poorest quintile households complete primary school, compared with 72% of girls in the richest quintile.

In Nigeria, minority Hausa-speaking girls have a 35% lower probability of attending school, compared with majority Yoruba-speaking boys (UIS 2005).

In India, 37% of girls ages 7-14 belonging to scheduled castes or scheduled tribes do not attend school, compared with 26% of boys the same age from the same groups (Census of India 2001). About 35% of 15-year-old tribal girls are in school, compared with about 60% of tribal boys of the same age.

In Pakistan, only 10% of Balochi-Pathan rural girls complete primary school, compared with 40% of comparable boys, 55% of urban Punjabi girls, and 65% of urban Punjabi boys (Lloyd, Mete, and Grant 2007).

In Guatemala, only 26% of indigenous, non-Spanish-speaking girls complete primary school, compared with 45% of indigenous boys and 62% of Spanish-speaking-girls (Hallman and Peracca 2007).

Of the 57 million children currently out of school, 31 million are girls. With our Agora Hot Spots, we hope to create easily accessible communal learning centers where internet, power and connectivity are available for any constructive use, including education, by all young people.