FREE BASICS: A wrong turn on the road to women's empowerment?

March
2016

In 2015, WWW Foundation and Sida launched the Women's Rights Online research study to map the opportunities for women's empowerment through web-enabled ICTs, across the capital cities/economic hubs of 10 countries in the global South: Cairo, Egypt; Bogota, Colombia; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kampala, Uganda; Lagos, Nigeria; Manila, Philippines; Maputo, Mozambique; Nairobi, Kenya; New Delhi, India; and Yaounde, Cameroon. Towards this, at each site, a quantitative survey was carried out with about 1000 respondents from urban-poor neighbourhoods (750 women and 250 men) to map gendered patterns of access and use of the Internet.

This report details the key findings from the India component of the research study. The most important insight from the Indian context is that though the increasing market diffusion of mobiles is eliminating the gender gap in Internet access, this trend does not show impacts for women's empowerment. This is because access and uptake of the Internet by urban-poor women is not (at this stage of adoption) leading to an expansion of their informational, communicative and associational capabilities. For most individuals in urban-poor neighbourhoods, the Internet experience also remains a largely passive one. Unless this is transformed, the Internet and web-enabled ICTs cannot open up empowerment pathways for India's most marginalised women.

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