Washington, D.C., July 11, 2022—Greater access to online learning for women can boost economic opportunities for them, such as jobs and new skills, while potentially adding up to $14 billion in value to the adult post-secondary online education market in emerging markets by 2026, according to a report from IFC.
The study, Women and Online Learning in Emerging Markets, developed in partnership with Coursera and the European Commission, reports that since the onset of the pandemic, about one-third of the women learners surveyed in Egypt, India, Mexico and Nigeria said they found a new job, set up a business, or improved their job or business performance after taking online courses. The analysis finds that one job is created for every 30 people trained online in these countries.
Although the pandemic disrupted the education sector, particularly in emerging economies, it also drove more students to online learning. The report says that the number of women enrolled in Coursera courses increased during the pandemic, and online learning allowed women and female caregivers to access education they otherwise would not have pursued.
Yet in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia and the Pacific, women remain the minority of online learners, as they face several challenges in turning to online education. For example, women lag behind men in access to finance and savings, which prevents them from pursuing multicourse, career-building online credentials that are linked to the labor market, the report says.
Stephanie von Friedeburg, Senior Vice President Operations, IFC said, "Online learning is shaping the future of education, but not everyone is benefitting equally. This research shows that closing the digital divide will not only benefit women learners and other underserved groups, but can yield dividends for all."
"Ten years ago, Coursera was founded to provide universal access to world-class learning. While there's still work to be done, this report captures some of the progress we've made," said Betty Vandenbosch, Chief Content Officer, Coursera. "Online learning can create more opportunity for women and underserved groups by allowing them to continue their studies, learn job-relevant skills, and access new career opportunities—unlocking economic potential for individuals and entire populations."
The report found that virtually every learner planned to continue learning online (75%) or in a blended format (24%) after the pandemic, which underscores the importance of closing gender gaps in online learning.
Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, said, "The Women and Online Learning in Emerging Markets report combines several EU priorities under the Global Gateway strategy: women's empowerment, education, digitalization, growth and jobs—all essential to sustainable development. We work with partners to ensure women have equal opportunities also through online learning, which boosts their chances to have a decent job and contribute to more prosperous and peaceful societies."
The study draws on user data from nearly 97 million Coursera learners in over 190 countries, surveys of about 10,000 global learners who completed at least one lesson on the platform, and interviews with over 70 global learners and industry experts.
For more about the report, please visit www.ifc.org/digital2equal.
IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2021, IFC committed a record $31.5 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.