Communication Habits by Demographics: Gender



The Pakistan survey shows significant gaps between men and women in terms of socio-economic roles, levels of education and literacy, and comprehension of English (one of two national languages- used in government as well as the language of business, commerce and upward social mobility) and/or Urdu (the other national language recognized by the Pakistani constitution, also a lingua franca in a multicultural and multilinguistic country) (See more about linguistic diversity and languages in Pakistan here). Charts 1-3 below illustrate these gaps.

Socio-economically speaking, men are far more likely to be chief wage earners and women are generally responsible for housekeeping. Women are twice as likely as men to say they are illiterate and they also lag behind men in their comprehension of English and Urdu. Both English and Urdu play an important role in communication and information exchange. Knowlede of English (generally related to higher education levels in Pakistan) also correlate with better opportunities, higher socio-economic status and technical skills needed for using new media. Urdu, which is the national language as enshrined in the constitution is also the major broadcast language for most radio and television outlets. Major national dailies also publish in English or Urdu. (see more about linguistic divides here).

These gaps are more pronounced in rural areas of Pakistan: notably, 64 percent of rural women said they are illiterate, double the overall national average. (Read more about the overall urban and rural divide within various regions in Pakistan here).

Chart 1

Chart 2

Literacy, language and socio-economic role issues have a direct effect on womens’ access and use of media and ICTs. [1] Attitudes about women’s interaction with technology are also another reason for preventing access to women. Many with conservative opinions believe that the vulgarity on television shows would negatively influence women, and that mobile phones would give women secret access to nefarious influences (such as males). For all these reasons, as shown below, women face a digital divide in Pakistan, especially in rural areas. [2]

Media and ICT Access

In Pakistan, respondents were asked to report their access to media and ICTs in their households as well as “anywhere”- that is, anywhere they might have access. Household access of men and women was similar, but that was not the case in the “anywhere” category, particularly in rural areas. Chart 4 shows these divides.

Chart 3

The disparities between rural and urban women in terms of access are marked with cable and satellite TV reception, mobile phones and PCs or laptops. In addition, internet access is largely limited to urban men- rural men and women in general have very little access.

Media and ICT Use

In addition to direct access to media and ICT devices, periodic use also shows gender disparity (Chart 5). As was seen with access, periodic (monthly) internet use is largely limited to urban men; rural men and women in general, show very little use.

Chart 4

Television use tends to be similar for both genders, but there is a use divide between rural and urban women (see Chart 6). Among those who watch television, the peak times for watching television are 20.00-22.00 in the evening. Women, who are more likely to be at home, also have a slight viewership peak during the afternoon.

Chart 5

Radio listenership rates are much lower than reported access for both men and women (compare chart 4 and 5). Men have higher radio use than women, as they have access to it at other locations besides at home (see chart 7). Radio use for women is largely confined to the home. Men, who also have higher access to mobile phones, are also more likely to listen to radio through their mobile phones.

Chart 6

There is not much disparity of radio listenership between urban and rural women.

In general, radio is the most effective means of reaching any target audience in Pakistan, including rural women. This is because of its low cost as well as the fact that written and reading comprehension is not required for listening to radio.

In terms of topics of interest on radio, men are more likely than women to listen to news and politics programs, whereas women are more likely to listen to health shows (see Table 1 which shows differing interests between men and women highlighted in black). (Read more about attitudes to information for men and women here).

Table 1


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