13 Mar 2024
by Kat Dixon

Guest blog: Breaking barriers - Empowering women in India through digital inclusion

In a world thriving on connectivity, digital inclusion has become the way to empower women across the world. Despite increasing global internet access, a persistent digital gender gap remains.*

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that approximately  67% of the world’s population( 5.4 billion people) used the internet in 2023,1 an increase of 45% since 2018.2  However, the majority of those not connected are women and girls.3 In 2023, 70% of men and 65% of women globally used the internet - that’s 244 million more men than women online.4

The disparity is amplified in low and middle income countries,5 starkly illustrated by this Digital Gender Gap interactive map by Professor Ridhi Kashyap using the Facebook Gender Gap Index. The telecommunications sector, valued at USD $1,805 billion in 2022, is rapidly expanding with significant investment in global infrastructure.6 As 5G and newer technologies emerge, PWC predicts telcos will invest around USD $342 billion in their networks in 2027.7

The emergence of 5G, cloud computing and the exponential differences of new technologies (yes, inevitably I’m mentioning generative AI here), undoubtedly offers further opportunities for growth and innovation. 5G alone offers network speeds around 10 times faster than 4G LTE networks.8 Demands for computing power, network speeds and cybersecurity are driving related industries. 

India9 has approved three semiconductor plants, investing 1.26 trillion rupees ($15.2 billion), with an aim to position the country as a global electronics leader, reducing reliance on foreign chip supplies. While global growth offers a window to address inequality, its distribution across countries - especially in terms of opportunities for women - remains unclear. India  is predicted to surpass Japan and Germany in economic growth by 2030.10 Whilst it sees rapid connectivity growth, digital inclusion lags behind particularly for women. As of January 2024 India had 751 million internet users,11 a 52.5% penetration rate. However, an Oxfam report12 highlights factors impacting accessibility - such as affordability, education, employment, religion, and caste - revealing a significant gender gap in phone ownership (61% men, 31% women).

The digitally disconnected are often from marginalised communities, hindering access to entrepreneurship and business, as well as essential services such as education, health and financial inclusion. Despite increasing global investment in infrastructure and connectivity, there’s a risk of underserved populations getting left behind, deepening the digital divide in rapidly expanding countries like India. Jangala, where I work, is a humanitarian technology charity working to address digital gender inequalities. We partner with local grassroots organisations to tackle connectivity challenges, empowering local people to get online using our accessible technology.

Our flagship product - Big Box - uses mobile signal as a super charged hotspot, bringing internet to populations who might otherwise struggle to get online access. In India, we work with an incredible organisation, ALIG Educational and Welfare Society (ALIG), to bring connectivity to women and girls in Jharkhand, West Bengal. Using one Big Box, we’ve worked with ALIG to connect 10 desktops in a computer lab. Now, 200 women who visit each day can access computer, programming and digital skills lessons. This work has impacted around 9,600 lives to date.

“Thank you so much for the Big Boxes. They’re really working great … There were many girls who didn't even know how to start a computer or laptop. Giving them the opportunity to access the internet is a great help.” - Arshad Kauser, Executive Director, ALIG

If you want to get in touch and learn more about Jangala’s work visit www.janga.la or contact Claire Marshall, Jangala’s Director of Fundraising and Communications [email protected]

*Note: Much of the data available only differentiates between male and female, with limited access to data for non-binary or trans populations. This author hopes this can change in future. 


1 - https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx
2 - Ibid: https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx
3 - https://www.itu.int/en/mediacentre/backgrounders/Pages/bridging-the-gender-divide.aspx
4 - https://www.itu.int/itu-d/reports/statistics/2023/10/10/ff23-the-gender-digital-divide/
5 - https://www.sociology.ox.ac.uk/article/updated-digital-gender-gaps-website-shows-real-time-gender-inequalities-in-internet-access
6 - https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/global-telecom-services-market#:~:text=The%20global%20telecom%20services%20market%20size%20was%20estimated%20at%20USD,USD%201%2C885.41%20billion%20in%202023.
7 - https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/industries/tmt/telecom-outlook-perspectives.html
8 - https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/tech-at-the-edge-trends-reshaping-the-future-of-it-and-business
9 - https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/mi/research-analysis/india-seizes-crown-of-fastest-growing-g20-economy-dec23.html
10 - https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/mi/research-analysis/india-seizes-crown-of-fastest-growing-g20-economy-dec23.html
11 - https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2024-india#:~:text=There%20were%20751.5%20million%20internet%20users%20in%20India%20in%20January,January%202023%20and%20January%202024.
12 - https://www.oxfamindia.org/knowledgehub/workingpaper/india-inequality-report-2022-digital-divide



Kat Dixon

Kat Dixon

Strategy, Insights & Advocacy Lead, Jangala

Kat Dixon is the Strategy, Insights & Advocacy Lead at Jangala, a humanitarian tech charity seeking to get 4 million people online by 2029. Kat has previously built philanthropic partnerships with TikTok, Microsoft, Google and other tech giants to bridge the digital skills divide. She is an advisor to the Minimum Digital Living Standards and the Digital Youth Index. Her research fellowship with the Data Poverty Lab, of Good Things Foundation, produced the Periodic Table of Internet Elements. In 2023, she was shortlisted for Digital Leader of the Year award.