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 Wednesday, October 23, 2013


In several countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, women have equal access to Internet than men, but  women have disadvantage respect the use. This situation limits both personal and professional development of the female population than growth with equity in the countries of the region under the new technological paradigm, a new study released last week by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The rate of Internet use among women is on average 8.5 % lower than of men in 10 countries with available information included in the document Women in the Digital Economy: Overcoming the threshold of inequality, whose findings have feeded the work of the XII Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held last week in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The digital economy includes the telecommunications infrastructure - particularly broadband networks - industries of information and communications  technology (ICT) - hardware , software and applications- and the degree of users' digital literacy.

In all countries has increased, in recent years, the proportion of men and women who report using the Internet from any access point , but only in Brazil , Mexico and Uruguay the gender gap narrowed. In the rest of countries widened. The difference between women and men is nearly 5 % in Chile (39.3 % vs. 44 %) , a country that has one of the highest rates of use of this technology. In Peru, meanwhile, 26 % of women and 34.1 % of men say they are users.

This gender digital divide is more common in urban than rural areas and mainly affects older women of all educational levels. In El Salvador the difference between women and men with tertiary education is five points ( 70.3 % versus 75.5 %), while in Honduras is almost three percent (71.2 % and 74 %). In Brazil , on  other hand, 4.3 % of women and 7.4 % of men 65 years older report using internet, the same happen in countries like Costa Rica (3.1 % and 7.1 %) and Ecuador (2.1% and 4.1 % ).
The prevalence of Internet use increases, as well as the income level of households rises, but the gender gap is smaller in those groups where the technology is less accessible. In Uruguay, the least unequal country in this area, 34.5 % of women in the first quintile report using Internet against 63 % in the fifth quintile.

The only situation where inequality is reversed is in the case of women employees, showing Internet use rates higher than those of men. The latter data indicates that having skills for use of ICT can be a powerful tool for the employment of many women.

But, almost half of the women in the region (representing 50.9 % of the population, over 300 million people) have no any link with the labor market: the female economic activity rate reaches 49.8 % ( for male the rate reaches 78.7 % ) and one per every 10 women are employed in domestic service, one of the lowest paid work and less social protection.

Ensuring women's economic autonomy, increasing their labor market participation and recognizing the unpaid work that they perform mostly, are some of the main challenges that the countries of the region are facing, raises the ECLAC. And as  in the digital economy the gender inequalities, present in the rest of society, are reproduced, policies that prevent occupational segregation, wage gaps prevention and promote a fair gender division of labor are necessary.

Full Report (In Spanish):

(Source: CEPAL)