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The WhatsApp Gender Gap Will Surprise You!

By Wayan Vota on January 22, 2018

whatsapp gender gap

We all know there is a gender gap in the usage of mobile phones and technology in general. GSMA reports that women on average are 14% less likely to own a mobile phone than men, which translates into 200 million fewer women than men owning mobile phones.

Did you know there was a WhatsApp gap too? And its not what you’d expect.

WhatsApp Gender Gap

WhatsApp is now the most popular messaging service globally, and like other technologies in low- and middle-income countries, most of its users are likely to be men.

GSMA found that the gender gap in Internet-based messaging use, including Whatsapp, is highest in most African markets such as DRC, Ethiopia and Ivory Coast, and also India, where women are 38% less likely to use IP messaging than men – 50% less likely in rural areas.

WhatsApp Opportunity

The good news is that the WhatsApp gender gap almost disappears in Central and South America and South Africa, showing that women can reach parity with men in instant messaging usage when given the opportunity,.

In Jordan, where there is an overall technology gender gap, both men and women viewed WhatsApp favorably as a way to interact with friends and family. Women themselves reported highly valuing group chat services and social media channels, as WhatsApp is seen as a way to be connected even though they tend to spend most of their time at home.

What’s Your WhatsApp Strategy?

As development practitioners, we should be aware of this WhatsApp gender gap – both its negative and positive ramifications.

In certain countries, using WhatsApp in our programs could skew our results towards a male-dominated demographic, while in other countries, we should focus on WhatsApp for the best results.

Regardless which country you are working in, you should be considering WhatsApp as a better way to reach your constituents than SMS text messaging. The world is going to smartphones – don’t be left behind!

Filed Under: Women in Tech
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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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5 Comments to “The WhatsApp Gender Gap Will Surprise You!”

  1. Abenaa Addai says:

    I recently conducted a client survey for the introduction of digital finance for a microfinance network in three countries. And surprisingly, there is a gender gap as well! In Liberia and Rwanda slightly more women than men reported having access to mobile money: Rwanda 95.9%, of female clients and 94.5% of male clients. Liberia 49.1% female and 46.1% of male clients. In Zambia more men than women had access ( 69.6% and 59.3% resp.).

  2. Kathryn Clifton says:

    I wonder how much the numbers are influenced by industry incentives. For example in Mexico, most telco companies give you free WhatsApp usage so people prefer it to calling through the cell phone. I did not see Jordan on the map, do you have a website the track the use by country?

    • Wayan Vota says:

      Agreed – incentives such as zero-rating certain apps, like the Mexico example, can sway usage. I was amazed at how strong Viber is the Philippines, until I learned it is a free call on both major providers.

      The Jordan data comes from the GSMA study, which tracked usage in several countries. DAI also did a messaging study in Jordan. Both are referenced in the article.

  3. Timo Luege says:

    Are the grey areas “no data”?