Opportunity and Inclusion
Digital inclusion

Access to and use of mobile phone technology to access markets, information, social services, and social networks

*For more on digital financial inclusion, see the financial inclusion page

© Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation | Prashant Panjiar | Family planning session in Makassar, Indonesia | 2015
How digital inclusion supports women's economic empowerment
Access to income and assets
Initial surveys and studies indicate that access to digital technology may enhance women’s ability to access markets
In 11 emerging economies, approximately 64 percent of working women found that mobile phones improved their access to business and employment opportunities.
GSMA | 2015
In India, roughly 60 percent of women surveyed used the internet to search and apply for jobs; in Mexico, 38 percent of women surveyed used the internet to earn additional income.
Intel | 2013
In Nairobi, messaging services allowed women vegetable sellers to contract with producers directly.
Gurumurthy and Chami | 2014
Power to make decisions
Self-reported metrics suggest digital inclusion increases women’s agency
In Palestine, 96 percent of women participating in a rural information and communication technology training program reported increased self-confidence.
Rabayah | 2010
Investigating the perception of the role of ICT towards the quality of life of people in rural communities in Uganda
In Uganda, women using digital technology noted greater self-esteem and wellbeing and an increase in opportunities to achieve personal goals.
Kivunike et al. | 2009
Nigerian women using digital technology had higher self-esteem, a greater sense of wellbeing, and more opportunities to achieve personal goals.
Olatokun | 2009
In a multi-country survey, 70 percent of women internet users considered it liberating, while less than 58 percent of women surveyed felt more independent when using a mobile phone.
GSMA | 2015
How digital inclusion produces further benefit
Digital technologies can be used to support women’s educational needs.
GSMA | 2015
In select developing markets, 77–84 percent of women surveyed used the internet to further their education.
Miyazawa | 2009
Students given simple mobile phones in an adult education program in Niger had test scores 0.19–0.26 standard deviations higher than those in standard adult education classes. Furthermore, students’ standardized math test scores remained higher seven months after the end of the program.
Aker, Ksoll, and Lybbert | 2012
Financial inclusion
Early pilot projects have linked digital inclusion to notable improvements in women’s financial inclusion outcomes, particularly with regard to mobile banking.
Klapper and Dutt | 2015
Mobility and safety in public
Mobile phone access increased women’s perceived sense of safety and provided a platform for safety-enhancing services in low- and middle-income countries.
GSMA | 2015
Pregnant women who took part in a mobile health intervention in Nigeria were 2.4 times more likely to breastfeed exclusively and 2.6 times more likely to initiate timely breastfeeding.
Flax et al. | 2014