The revolution in information technology over the past few decades has often been called a “great equalizer,” offering a lifeline to crucial opportunities in education, civic engagement, and entrepreneurship that were once inaccessible to many people around the world.
Yet just as the impact from digital technology is accelerating, far too many women are being left behind. According to USAID, more than a billion and a half women in low- and middle-income countries today still do not own mobile phones. At the same time, the gap in internet use between men and women has grown steadily during the past three years.
“Through closing the digital gender gap, women can help pull their families out of extreme poverty and serve as active participants and leaders in their societies,” USAID reports.
Today, as the world recognizes International Women’s Day, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump joined with USAID Administrator Mark Green to launch USAID’s next women’s empowerment initiative, the WomenConnect Challenge. The WomenConnect Challenge is a global call for solutions designed to close the gender digital divide. USAID will identify and test the promising pilot approaches, with technical assistance and financial support, and then scale proven solutions for maximum reach and result.
Today’s announcement follows more than a year of work from the Trump Administration to empower women and expand their economic opportunities. A few highlights:
- President Donald J. Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders, an initiative that supports women’s professional advancement and the establishment of woman-owned businesses.
- During the G20 summit last summer, President Trump announced the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi). This innovative new facility aims to advance women’s entrepreneurship and help women in developing countries gain increased access to the finance, markets, and networks necessary to start and grow a business. The United States initiated the idea for the facility and serves as a founding member.
- In October of last year, the President signed into law the Women, Peace, and Security Act, which prioritizes the participation of women in American diplomatic, development, and defense operations.