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Increasing Access Through Gender-Responsive Policy

Photo: Asian Development Bank (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Leaders around the globe have declared their commitment to making universal, affordable internet access a reality for all. But are they taking the action needed to connect the unconnected? Our recent report — produced in collaboration with the Web Foundation — provides the most current global assessment of national ICT and broadband policies, assessing whether countries are putting into place the policies needed to connect women, who comprise the majority of today’s offline population.


No country will achieve universal internet access without overcoming the digital gender gap. This gap is primarily a result of policy failure and, unfortunately, the report — REACT with Gender-Responsive ICT Policy: The Key to Connecting the Next 4 Billion — finds that only a few governments have taken any action at the policy level to increase internet access and use among women. The report outlines steps that governments can take to develop and implement policies to address the unique barriers to internet access and use faced by women. The report also calls on policymakers to REACT — that is, to create policy with women and for women focusing on:


  • Rights: Protecting and enhancing everyone’s rights online
  • Education: Using education to equip everyone with the skills needed to access and use the web effectively.
  • Access: Delivering affordable access to an open internet.
  • Content: Ensuring relevant content is available and used.
  • Targets: Keeping policymakers accountable to the promises they’ve made.


Following this framework will lead to better, more effective broadband policies. In turn, women’s internet access and use will improve and we will see concrete progress made toward achieving universal access goals.


Learn more about the progress that has been made so far and what steps policymakers should be looking to take next by reviewing the full brief.

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