A survey from the World Wide Web Foundation revealed that only 19 percent of women in Uganda use the internet compared to 27 percent of men in the country.
The survey was conducted in four countries targeting women’s online experience. In Ghana, men were found to be 6 percent more likely to go online compared to women. In Uganda, men are 43 percent more likely to go online although the overall internet usage usage remains low at 27 percent compared to Ghana’s 30 percent.
The report warns that women’s exclusion from the digital society is a huge threat on gender equality and denies women the chance to improve their lives.
“The internet is one of the most empowering technologies the world has ever seen, but unless women are equally able to benefit from it, the gender divide risks driving further inequality.”
A number of barriers are attributed to the figures in Uganda including the cost of mobile data, lack of devices and skills to use the internet. 46 percent of women cited the lack of skills as a barrier compared to 40 percent of men.
The report has called on the government to tackle the digital gender divide and invest in policies that support women to use digital technologies.
“The digital gender divide isn’t a women’s problem, it’s everyone’s problem. The exclusion of women online threatens all of our prosperity, opportunity and wellbeing,” said Chenai Chair, Web Foundation Research Manager for Gender and Digital Rights.
“If Uganda is to build a vibrant digital economy where everyone can contribute, it should invest in making sure women can use the internet effectively as a top priority. The good news is the communications regulator has recognized digital inequality as a problem and is engaging with civil society to tackle it.”
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) works and engages with Civil Society Organizations including the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) and the Web Foundation’s Women’s Rights Online network to better integrate gender into its digital policies.
The government agencies are working to transform the approach to gender and implement policies designed to meet the specific needs that women have online.
Women are reported to comment less on topics about politics, social and economic issues and are less likely to sell or advertise products online.
“Inclusive economies are stronger economies, and inclusive digital development will be critical as countries look to bounce back from the COVID-19 crisis.”