The Problem

Digital and mobile tools have revolutionized our world. Across all industries and segments of society, digital technologies have opened the doors to unprecedented growth and spurred a new wave of innovation that is dramatically improving lives. Despite this remarkable growth, over 55 percent of the world’s population remains unconnected including 1.7 billion women in low- and middle-income countries. High costs of devices and internet service, lack of digital literacy, and restrictive social norms disproportionately impact women, excluding many from the opportunities digital tools and services provide. While the reach of digital technologies continues to rapidly expand, the gap between men and women accessing the internet has widened over the last three years. This growing digital gender divide can perpetuate high levels of poverty by limiting women’s access to information and services for health, safety and education for both themselves and their families.

Woman in pink on phone.

The Solution

The digital gender divide cannot be bridged by focusing on a single barrier to women’s access and usage of digital technology. Instead, a successful solution must offer a holistic approach that addresses affordability, digital skills, and restrictive social norms, such as security and trust.

Building on existing and previous programs that have addressed some, but not all, aspects of the digital gender divide, USAID and Partners are launching the WomenConnect Challenge to support comprehensive approaches to closing the digital gender divide. In alignment with the innovative spirit of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, we invite you to join us in search of solutions to close the digital gender divide by submitting proposals when we issue an open call in early 2018.

Two beneficiaries of Nigeria's Fadama II project.

Get Involved 

Do you have an innovative and holistic approach or proposal on how to close the digital gender divide? Interested in learning more? We invite you to stay in touch to learn the latest information on the WomenConnect Challenge, application process and other details. Please fill out the form below to receive updates on this opportunity.