Girls access to mobile phones often reflects gender norms

Girls’ access to mobile phones isn’t as simple as ‘have access’ and ‘don’t have access’ and this binary distinction needs to be rethought. Phones can break, get sold when money is tight, they can be confiscated or used by other family members, and they can get stolen.

A range of barriers prevent girls from accessing and using phones. Cost of handset was given as a reason by 42% of girls, and cost of data by 13%. Cost is the biggest barrier to phone ownership for boys.

But for girls by far the biggest barrier was social. Nearly half of girls said parents’ concerns about safety was the main reason why they didn’t own a mobile.