Understanding the Digital Gender Divide in Rural Bangladesh: How Wide It Is and Why

The digital gender divide (DGD) has become a major concern for policymakers. Globally, more men (58 per cent) use the internet than women (48 per cent). This gap can mainly be attributed to the gender gap in developing countries where 12 per cent fewer women use the internet; the difference is just two per cent in the developed countries. Rural women, especially, are more deprived of ICT than urban women in terms of education, cultural norms and beliefs, and ICT infrastructure. This policy brief focuses on the gender gap in rural Bangladesh, specifically asking how prominent are DGDs in the access and use of ICT in rural Bangladesh, whether the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the women matter in accessing ICT, and to what extent. BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University, conducted a nationally representative rural household (HH) survey titled”Digital Literacy and Access to Public Services” from September to November 2019 among 6,500 households. The survey measured, in detail, various aspects of digital literacy in rural households. The most digitally able persons (MDAPs) of a household, selected by the household members, responded to the digital literacy section of the survey. The policy brief examines the existing digital gender divide among the MDAPs and compares the socioeconomic backgrounds of digitally able women and digitally able men. The analysis found a gulf between rural men and women in digital access and skills. This study reveals that even among rural citizens marked by rudimentary digital literacy, the difference between men and women is enormous.

Author: Zahan, Iffat
Type: Policy Brief
Year: 2021