From activists in Egypt to coffee farmers in Colombia, the Internet has transformed the lives of billions of people. It functions as a gateway to ideas, resources, and opportunities that never could have been realized before, let alone fathomed. All around the world, the Internet is helping people to imagine new possibilities—and then, to make them happen.
But women and girls are being left behind. On average across the developing world, nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet, and the gender gap soars to nearly 45 percent in regions like sub-Saharan Africa. Even in rapidly growing economies the gap is enormous. Nearly 35 percent fewer women than men in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have Internet access, and nearly 30 percent in parts of Europe and across Central Asia. In most higher-income countries, women's Internet access only minimally lags that of men's, and in countries such as France and the United States, in fact exceeds it.
Bridging the Internet gender gap represents an opportunity of immense proportions. Internet access is fast becoming an indispensable entrée to a hyper-connected world. The Internet contribution to global GDP is greater than the GDP of Canada. In India, Internet-based economic activity accounts for more than 5 percent of GDP growth.Without access to the Internet, women lack access to its tools, resources and opportunities. And because women are critical collaborators in the effort to achieve development goals such as reduced child malnutrition and mortality,or increased economic growth, this gap disadvantages not just women, but their families, communities and countries.