W-GDP WomenConnect Challenge

Speeches Shim

The WomenConnect Challenge was first launched by Advisor Ivanka Trump and USAID Administrator Mark Green on International Women’s Day in 2018. Since then, USAID awarded nine grantees that are working to address barriers limiting women’s access to technology and to connect nearly 1 million women in 12 countries.

As part of the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, the W-GDP 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.

As part of the W-GDP commitment to close the gender digital divide, a third round of the WomenConnect Challenge was announced on August 11, 2020. These funding opportunities focus on scaling effective practices while supporting emerging technologies and policies:

  • W-GDP WomenConnect Challenge Round 3 is a global call for proposals and will focus on scale, replicability, and private sector partnership and investment. Round 3 builds on the effective practices established in 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.
  • The Reliance Foundation and W-GDP WomenConnect Challenge India highlights a deep commitment from the Reliance Foundation to close the gender digital divide in India through supporting local and culturally contextual innovative solutions.

“When women rise, families flourish, communities grow, and countries prosper. A truly developed world has to be an equal world.” -- Mrs. Nita M. Ambani, Founder and Chairperson, Reliance Foundation


W-GDP WomenConnect Challenge Impact:

These current funding opportunities build on the successful outcomes and partnerships of past WomenConnect Challenges. USAID has awarded over $2.9 million to 12 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 across the three W-GDP pillars.

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