How Internet access could help lift women and girls out of poverty

How Internet access could help lift women and girls out of poverty

By Benjamin Jourdan, Policy Officer for Development Finance in ONE’s Johannesburg office

I followed my normal routine this morning:

8:40AM – Woke up after hitting snooze three times

8:41AM – Browsed Facebook for about 5 minutes

8:46AM – Sent an email to my boss

8:47AM – Mozied to the shower and gave an extraordinary lip-sync performance of my favorite jam

8:53AM – Dried off and Snap-chatted some rainbow-pukey face pics to my mates

8:56AM – Checked the weather

8:57AM – Downloaded the next Game of Thrones episode (It’s going to be a wild Friday night!)

8:58AM – Realized it was 8:58AM, threw on clothes, and raced to work

As I sped down the streets of Johannesburg on my trusty scooter, I reflected on how reliant I am on technology and the Internet – and how much easier it has made my life. Yes, it brings its vices, but without the Internet, I wouldn’t be able to video chat with family in the U.S., I wouldn’t have been able to apply to my current job, I wouldn’t be able to post this blog!

Where the Internet has truly been most revolutionary, however, is within the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.

Maize farmer Zaugia Nyiransengimana of the Impabaruta Co-operative, trials 'Agro-fiba APP' during a visit from Lilian Uwintwari of software development firm M-AHWII. Southern Province, Rwanda.
These groups now have access to information and networks that help them communicate, set up businesses, and access services, allowing them and their families to lead healthier, safer and more prosperous lives.

But more than half of the world is still unconnected to the internet and where someone lives makes a huge difference. Almost 75% of Africa’s population is offline compared with 19% of people in developed countries. To put it in perspective, the amount of data I use in my normal daily routine (checking apps, streaming music, posting photos, downloading video) is more data than the average citizen living in the poorest regions of the world uses in one month.

A Maasai woman checks her phone as she sells jewelry at the market in the town of Susua, Kenya, Wednesday, August 12, 2015. Many people in Africa don't have access to power in their homes and will walk many miles to charge their cell phones. In Kenya people almost can't live without their mobiles, they use it to pay for most things and connect with the world -- they use their mobiles instead of physical money, which is a lot safer and more practical. In nearly every location globally, at every demographic level, people possess some form of cell phone in todayÕs hyper connected world. Be it an iPhone or the simplest Nokia, the anxiety born of a fading battery has emerged as a common human experience. In villages, slums and any poorer area of Africa, charging stations have become the central social circles. The consequences of lost connections are palatable in Kenya, and the opportunities and growth that come with access to reliable power is transformative. (Photo credit/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

Hit harder by this lack of connectivity are women and girls. Women living in the poorest countries are a third less likely than their male counterparts to be connected and the gap is increasing; if trends continue, in 2020 over 75% will be unconnected.

Without connecting these women and girls to the internet, barriers for women to access education, lifesaving health information, and job opportunities will continue to perpetuate dire gender inequalities in these regions.

In the Making the Connection report, ONE calls for an action plan to connect 350 million women and girls in the poorest countries by 2020, resulting in spin off benefits for everyone.

So Snap, Instagram, Facebook, Tweet, YouTube, and Pinterest your support to #PovertyIsSexist and sign our petition today!


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