Today, 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.
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.
At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Lima, Peru, on November 19, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg used our report as the basis for his policy recommendations.
In his address, Zuckerberg talked about the role that internet access can play in helping communities lift themselves out of poverty, as well as improving global health and education. He also pushed for more world leaders to sign the Connectivity Declaration, a joint petition started by ONE and Facebook to promote universal internet access. (Add your name at connecttheworld.one.org.)
After the summit, the official APEC leaders’ communique reflected these amazing efforts, stating that they “believe that the development of ICT (information and communications technology) plays a vitally important role in human development and we reaffirm our willingness to achieve next-generation broadband by 2020… We will collaborate to unleash the potential of the digital economy and strongly support an accessible, open, interoperable, reliable and secure ICT environment as an essential foundation for economic growth and prosperity.”
We offer our thanks to Mark Zuckerberg and our partners at Facebook for helping share this message. We hope that more and more world leaders realize that internet access is essential for achieving humanity’s potential.