Women constitute one-third of Internet users in India: Study

Women make up only one-third of Internet users in India, said a study by NGO Oxfam India.

According to the ‘India Inequality Report 2022: Digital Divide’, released by the NGO on Sunday, Indian women are 15 percent less likely to own a mobile phone and 33 percent less likely to use mobile internet services than men.

In Asia-Pacific, India fares worst with the widest gender gap of 40.4 percent, the study says. The report also points to rural-urban digital divide. “Despite registering a significant (digital) growth rate of 13 percent in one year, only 31 percent of the rural population uses the Internet compared to 67 percent of their urban counterparts,” the report said.

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The report analyzes the primary data from the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) household survey held from Jan 2018 to Dec 2021.

Among states, Maharashtra has the highest internet penetration, followed by Goa and Kerala, while Bihar has the lowest, followed by Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the report said.

“According to the NSS (2017-18), only about 9 percent of students enrolled in any course had access to a computer with Internet and 25 percent of enrolled students had access to the Internet through any type of device,” says the report.

The digital push driven by the pandemic has led to India experiencing the largest number of real-time digital transactions in 2021 at 48.6 billion.

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However, the probability of a digital payment by the richest 60 percent is four times more than the poorest 40 percent in India.

In rural India, the tendency to use formal financial services is lowest for ST households, followed by SC households and OBC households.

According to the UN’s E-Participation Index (2022), which is a composite measure of three important dimensions of e-government, namely provision of online services, telecommunication connectivity and human capacity, India ranks 105 out of 193 nations, it said.

The probability of having access to a computer is more for the general and OBC groups than for the SC and ST populations. The difference between the general category and ST is as high as seven to eight percent between 2018 and 2021.

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The chances of having a computer are higher with higher level of education as well as income. As much as 99 percent rural population did not have a computer post the pandemic – an increase of two percent – while the urban population witnessed an increase of seven percent to 91 percent.

Among all religions, Sikhs have the highest probability of owning a computer followed by Christians, Hindus and finally Muslims.


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