VIJAYAWADA: A recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India’s (IAMAI) revealing Andhra Pradesh’s poor interent penetration of 31% may come as a surprise to many men but not to women.
A major contributing factor behind low internet penetration in the state is the low access to mobile phones among women. According to phase-1 of the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5), only 48.9% women have mobile phones.

In terms of women’s access to mobile phones in the 22 states and Union territories surveyed in the first phase, Andhra Pradesh ranks second-lowest after Gujarat, leading by just 0.1%.
The breakup of the state average shows that only 40.9% of women in rural areas have access to mobile phones though this proportion in urban areas is considerably higher at 67.4%. However, AP stands fourth-lowest when it comes to women with access to mobile phones in urban areas compared to the 22 states and UTs.
The state fares worse when it comes to mobile phone access in rural areas, ranking third-lowest with Tripura and Gujarat occuping the second-lowest and lowest spots, respectively.
However, compared to NFHS-4, women’s access to mobile phones increased by 12.7% in the state. Experts said these statistics reflect the lack of women’s empowerment in a digital world.
The survey was conducted among women aged between 15 to 49 years under the ‘women empowerment’ category. The first phase of the NFHS-5, however, includes only 22 states and Union territories.
The survey is yet to be completed in 17 states/UTs, which includes states with larger territory and population such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Odisha.
NFHS-5 fieldwork in Andhra Pradesh was conducted between July 2, 2019 to November 14, 2019 by Sigma Research and Consulting Private Limited. Information was gathered from 11,346 households, including 10,975 women and 1,558 men.

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