International Women’s Day Special - Use of tech by Indian women rises: 2 in 3 households where women weren’t using a smartphone/gadget 10 years ago are now doing so
- ● Women who started using smartphones or gadgets in the last 10 years are using them to stay in touch with family/friends, find information, online shopping, make payments, create content and even run a business
- ● 5-fold increase estimated in the last 10 years in the number of households where women are using smartphones/gadgets from 40 million to 200 million
March 8, 2022, New Delhi: Today is International Women’s Day that reminds us to celebrate womanhood all year long. In the past years, LocalCircles has marked the occasion, with a focus on raising awareness on women safety, women employability, etc. This year, LocalCircles has attempted to understand how the use of technology via smartphones and gadgets has empowered Indian women in the last decade.
India had 1.2 billion mobile subscribers in 2021, of which about 750 million were smartphone users, according to Deloitte. Per LocalCircles’ estimates, approximately 200 million households in India now have 1 or more women using the internet for a myriad of online activities. This number stood at barely 40 million households in 2012. India has approximately a little over 300 million households. This massive rise has been driven by the availability of low-cost smartphones and mobile data connections available throughout the country. To understand how women in Indian households who were not using smartphones or gadgets 10 years ago are now using it, LocalCircles conducted a survey that received over 20,000 household respondents located in 324 districts of India. 63% respondents were men while 37% respondents were women. 45% respondents were from tier 1, 36 % from tier 2 and 19% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
Use of tech by Indian women: 2 in 3 households where women weren’t using a smartphone/gadget 10 years ago are now doing so
The first question in the survey asked household representatives, “Do you have women in your household who 10 years ago weren’t using computers tablets or smartphones but are now doing so regularly?” In response, the majority of 68% of households said “Yes”, and 30% said “No”. Only 2% did not have an opinion. This suggests that 2 in 3 households in India where women weren’t using a smartphone or gadget 10 years ago are now doing so. This question in the survey received 9,391 responses. Households where women were already using smartphones/gadgets in 2012 or 10 years ago were excluded from the survey.
Women who have started using smartphones or gadgets in the last 10 years are using them to stay in touch with family/friends, finding information, shopping, making payments, creating content and even running a business
When the survey asked respondents about the kind of activities women in their households who have taken to using smartphone and gadgets in the last 10 years, 53% said “Shopping for various items”, 38% said “Booking various tickets or services”, 47% said “Making payments or accepting them”, 71% said “Finding information on the internet”, 79% said “Staying in touch with family and friends”, 24% said “Creating content for family, friend, work”, 9% said “Running a business”, and 18% said “For their employment”. This question received 11,090 responses. Respondents could select multiple options in this poll as most women are using the devices for multiple activities. The survey found out that the top use case for new women users of smartphones who have come online in the last decade was keeping in touch with family/friends via social media, finding information on the internet, followed by online shopping and making payments. Finding information on the internet includes use cases like viewing videos, listening to music, taking online classes or consuming news. The chart below provides a detailed illustration of the use cases.
In summary, 2 in 3 households in India where women weren’t using a smartphone or gadget until 10 years ago are now doing so for a myriad of online activities. A smartphone or a gadget has not only helped a large number of women get connected to their friends/family but become more informed and in many cases transact by shopping online or making a payment. While these are early use cases, it is only a matter of time when many more women will use this connectivity to find employment, establish businesses as well as raise issues and mobilise their community.
So, yes, while grave injustices, gender discrimination and crime against women continue to prevail in most parts of India, technology and connectivity are playing a key role in making things better be it in the field of education or employment opportunities or enabling them to raise issues. We must put into perspective the change in the last 40 years vis a vis change in the last 10 years, primarily driven by technology. It is this adoption of technology along with avenues to educate, express, create, transact that give us hope that the change in the next decade will be even faster than the previous one.
20,000 household respondents located in 324 districts of India. 63% respondents were men while 37% respondents were women. 45% respondents were from tier 1, 36 % from tier 2 and 19% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.