BRIDGING THE GENDER DIGITAL DIVIDE SO THAT WOMEN CAN FULLY PARTICIPATE IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
The WomenConnect Challenge is a global call for solutions to improve women’s participation in everyday life by meaningfully changing the ways women access and use technology.
While most of the world is becoming increasingly connected, the gender gap in mobile internet use in some countries is over 51 percent. Advancing women’s digital connectivity is a key component to ensuring women’s economic empowerment.
To date, USAID has 16 WomenConnect Challenge grantees working to address barriers limiting women’s access to technology and to connect nearly 6 million women in 16 countries. WomenConnect Round One, awarded in 2018, awarded nine grants and WomenConnect Round Two, awarded three in 2019.
Due to USAID's continued commitment to closing the gender digital divide, a third round of the WomenConnect Challenge was announced in August 2020. This round focuses on scale, replicability, and private sector partnership and investment to support emerging technologies and policies. The four grants awarded in this round will focus on scaling proven strategies established by WomenConnect Challenge Rounds 1 and 2, such as addressing social norms, creating new ways for women to engage with technology, and leveraging technologies such as artificial intelligence to address barriers to access and use.
USAID and Reliance Foundation sponsored an India-specific round of the WomenConnect Challenge to close the gender digital divide in India through supporting local and culturally contextual innovative solutions.
These current funding opportunities build on the successful outcomes and partnerships of past WomenConnect Challenges. USAID has awarded over $4.9 million to 16 grantees working to bridge the gender digital divide so that women can fully participate in the global economy.
● Round One: Nine grants were distributed to organizations who demonstrated how technology can create new opportunities for women’s empowerment in communities where they have otherwise faced restrictions to technology access and use.
● Round Two: Three awards were made to organizations that created specific solutions to address digital and economic opportunities.
● Round Three: Four awards were made, and matched with funding from the private sector, to advance women's digital development.
● WCC India: Ten awards have been made to organizations helping to bridge the gender digital divide in India.