As of 2020, the share of internet users in Europe was the highest in the world, with 83 percent of the female population and 87 percent of the male population accessing the internet. In the same year, there were 79 percent female and 81 percent male internet users in the CIS region (Commonwealth of Independent States), making it the second region worldwide by internet usage. Africa was the region where internet access was the lowest.
Share of female and male internet users worldwide
There are still disparities between the internet access rates of male and female online users in global regions. As of the examined year, 24 percent of Africa’s female population had online access, compared to 35 percent of men. Whereas in the Americas, there were more female than male internet users, 79 and 78 percent respectively. There was also a big difference in the share of female and male internet users in the Arab States. In the region, 56 percent of women had access to the internet, whereas the share of the male population using the internet was 68 percent. The gender gap was also seen in mobile internet usage in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). In 2020, the gender gap in mobile internet use in these countries was 15 percent.
Internet access and SDGs
As of 2021, Africa’s online access rate was the lowest worldwide, with estimates showing that just over 30 percent of the total population was using the internet. By comparison, the global average online usage rate was 51 percent. This technological gap between Africa and the rest of the world highlights the need for continued investment in information and communication technologies on the continent, as such processes can speed up progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. The Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, are a worldwide agenda to protect the planet, end poverty, and ensure global peace and prosperity. ICTs, especially mobile internet, contribute to the goals by enabling countries to participate in digital economies as well as empowering individuals to access crucial information and services. However, almost 40 percent of the world was not using the internet as of 2021. Particularly disenfranchised groups were frequently excluded from digital society, including women and girls, people with disabilities, elders, indigenous populations, people living in poverty, and inhabitants of least developed or developing countries. The digital gender gap was another obstacle for women to overcome on a global level to achieve economic advancement which would ultimately also benefit their communities.
Internet usage rate worldwide in 2020, by gender and region
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ITU. (November 29, 2021). Internet usage rate worldwide in 2020, by gender and region [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved May 27, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/491387/gender-distribution-of-internet-users-region/
ITU. "Internet usage rate worldwide in 2020, by gender and region." Chart. November 29, 2021. Statista. Accessed May 27, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/491387/gender-distribution-of-internet-users-region/
ITU. (2021). Internet usage rate worldwide in 2020, by gender and region. Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: May 27, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/491387/gender-distribution-of-internet-users-region/
ITU. "Internet Usage Rate Worldwide in 2020, by Gender and Region." Statista, Statista Inc., 29 Nov 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/491387/gender-distribution-of-internet-users-region/
ITU, Internet usage rate worldwide in 2020, by gender and region Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/491387/gender-distribution-of-internet-users-region/ (last visited May 27, 2022)