Digital Economy


New technologies and business models are opening alternative pathways to economic growth in emerging markets, offering opportunities to reshape lives while improving economies.

Yet women continue to lag behind men in access to digital technologies. Women are up to 50 percent less likely than men to access the Internet and 10 percent less likely to own a mobile phone. Closing the gender gap just in mobile ownership and data usage could generate an annual $15 billion in revenue for mobile operators.

A lack of full access to digital technologies prevents women from benefiting equally from the goods, services, and capital available across the online markets—impeding their ability to contribute to the global economy.

IFC is working with technology companies to lower barriers for women as part of its efforts to create markets for all. We work with the private sector to close gaps between men and women as employees, entrepreneurs, customers, and leaders. More companies are increasingly recognizing that to remain competitive, they need to better serve women across their business operations, including on digital platforms.

As part of our efforts to use the power of evolving technologies and business models to create opportunities for all, we recently conducted the first global study on women and ride-hailing. The study, which explores opportunities and challenges for women’s participation in ride-hailing, helps companies and other stakeholders better understand how emerging technologies and business models can remove longstanding barriers to women’s economic opportunities if designed with women’s needs in mind.

IFC calls upon companies in the digital economy space to gather and analyze sex-disaggregated data, design technologies and business models to better meet women’s needs, and engage more women as providers of goods and services.

The digital economy can be part of the answer to building safe, diverse, and inclusive workplaces and creating opportunities for all—so it’s important that both women and men participate equally in these new economic opportunities.

Current Initiatives

Digital2Equal—an IFC-led initiative bringing together 17 leading technology companies operating across the online marketplace to boost opportunities for women in emerging markets.