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The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020

The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020

Based on this 2020 version of the Mobile Gender Gap Report, there remains a substantial mobile gender gap across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Over 300 million fewer women than men access the internet on a mobile, and women are 8% less likely than men to own a mobile phone. But the mobile internet gender gap is narrowing in LMICs. Although women remain 20% less likely than men to use mobile internet, this represents a reduction from 27% in 2017, and 54% of women now use mobile internet.

The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020 examines how the mobile gender gap is changing quickly in LMICs, revealing how the main factors preventing women’s equal mobile ownership and internet use are evolving over time, and demonstrating how mobile usage is quickly expanding as smartphone ownership rises. This report provides:

  • Updated figures on gender gaps in mobile ownership and mobile internet use in LMICs and how these are changing;
  • For the first time, figures for the smartphone gender gap across LMICs, and how this is limiting women’s internet access and use;
  • A review of the barriers to mobile ownership and mobile internet use and how these have changed; and
  • Evidence of the impact of mobile access and use on women’s and men’s lives.

Findings from this report are based on the results of over 16,000 face-to-face surveys commissioned by GSMA Intelligence across 15 low- and middle-income countries, and subsequent modelling and analysis of this survey data.

Key Findings

  • 54% of women in low- and middle-income countries now use mobile internet and the gender gap is narrowing.
  • Despite this progress, the gender gap in mobile internet use in low- and middle-income countries remains substantial, with over 300 million fewer women than men accessing the internet on a mobile.
  • The underlying gender gap in mobile ownership remains largely unchanged, with the remaining unconnected proving difficult to reach.
  • The relative importance of the factors preventing access to mobile internet are changing rapidly across low- and middle-income countries.
  • Handset affordability remains the primary barrier to mobile phone ownership for men and women. Among mobile users who are aware of mobile internet, a lack of literacy and digital skills continues to be the main barrier to use,
  • Smartphones drive substantially higher mobile internet use, but there is a significant gender gap in smartphone ownership, with women in low and middle-income countries 20% less likely than men to own one.
  • Among mobile owners, women on average use a smaller range of services in all 15 countries surveyed—a gap that remains even among smartphone owners.
  • Consumption of video content on mobile is growing remarkably quickly for both men and women, increasing by over 50% in two years in half of surveyed countries.
  • Both men and women across surveyed markets report that mobile provides important benefits.


  • Introduction
  • Key findings
  • The mobile gender gap in 2020
  • The journey to mobile internet use
  • The persistent gender gap in mobile ownership
  • Smartphone ownership: sizing the gender gap
  • Growing awareness of mobile internet
  • Mobile internet use by women
  • Understanding women’s mobile use
  • Recommendations
  • Appendix 1: Barriers to mobile ownership and mobile internet use
  • Appendix 2: Methodology


This report was originally published on the Marketlinks website. You can also download the 2019 and 2021 versions of the report.

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