Digital transformation – or the adoption of digital technologies to create new and efficient modes of doing business, delivering healthcare, and administering goods and services – is playing a major role in alleviating poverty in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This transition is accompanied by challenges in the creation of enabling environments, information, and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, and shifting user needs and expectations. This shift is also not experienced equally across all groups and demographics around the world. The digital divide – or the gap in those who benefit from the digital age, and those who do not – is threatening the efficient and widescale adoption of digital tools and technologies. This divide exists both between countries, and within groups in individual country contexts. Too often, women and girls are disproportionately burdened with this divide more than their male peers. To understand how this divide is shaping women’s access to digital primary health care (PHC) services, the Strategic Analysis, Research, and Training (START) Center was tasked by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to examine the major catalysts and constraints that shape these dynamics.
The START team used published literature and key informant interviews to extract learning from the health sector, as well as three other sectors – digital financial services, education, and e-government – to understand how these services work within country- specific contexts to equitably deliver services to women. In addition to this, the team looked at more closely the existing ecosystem and key enablers of digital tools within three countries of interest: India, Indonesia, and Nigeria. The START team summarized these findings in a final report and final presentation that included key lessons and recommendations that address the gendered digital divide in digital health care.