In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg proposed that global internet access could be the answer to eradicating extreme poverty. From there he pledged to work with the U.N. in acquiring internet access for refugee camps and has continued to launch campaigns and work alongside organizations such as ONE in gaining further global support.
On November 19, Zuckerberg proposed policy recommendations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru where he addressed numerous world leaders and politicians. The summit concluded with unanimous support in implementing “accessible, open, interoperable, reliable and secure” global internet access.
Statistics have shown the dire need for internet access in developing countries and has compared accessibility to those in wealthier countries of which 81 percent of the population have internet access compared to a mere 15 percent in poorer countries. As much as 75 percent of Africa is disconnected and as a result, the issue has devolved to sexism in which women and adolescent girls are being further discriminated against with internet access. In fact, women in developing countries are “a third less likely” to receive internet access than males and the difference continues to increase.
ONE has recognized the separation in internet access that has been deepened by sexism and has created the Connectivity Declaration which will gather support for equal, global internet access. Thus far, 76 percent of ONE’s goal for backer support has been reached— that’s 75,839 names pledged out of 100,000.
By creating a way for global internet access, lives can be enriched and the effects of poverty lessened. At stake for individuals in poor countries with no internet access is a lack of education, limited health information and weakened job opportunities. In wealthy countries such as the U.S., the benefits that come alongside internet usage are taken for granted. In Africa, for example, a pregnant woman could benefit from having internet access in order to receive pregnancy advice and farmers could utilize the internet to predict weather forecasts in order to optimally maintain their crops and income.
Zuckerberg has been a long-standing advocate for widening internet access and has joined the U.N. initiative in eradicating poverty by 2030. The Facebook CEO supports the need for global internet access by claiming that the Internet gives “a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless.”
– Amy Williams