Operators face digital gender divide
Qtel chief, Nasser Marafih, yesterday told a panel at the World Economic Forum that women are missing out in the technology revolution because of a failure to engage girls with computer science.
Citing data from a GSM Association report, the boss of the Qatar-headquartered operator told the panel of global government ministers, business leaders, and academics that there is already a gender gap in world mobile subscriber numbers, with 300 million fewer women users than men. He noted that women in low-to-medium income countries are around 40% less likely to use the internet as often as men, and said the digital gender divide is growing.
“We know that ICT is a major enabler for economic growth and prosperity at the individual, community and national level. We also know that women can be powerful drivers of economic growth,” Marafih said, adding. “If our industry does not rise to the challenge then women around the world risk being left further behind.”
Other barriers to usage highlighted by the Qtel boss include access, cost limited technical skills, lack of knowledge of the full functionality of mobile devices and service, and cultural and social challenges.
Marafih says operators can play their part in overcoming those hurdles by promoting development of “services specifically designed for female customers.”