The WomenConnect Challenge (WCC) is USAID’s global call for solutions to improve women’s participation in everyday life by meaningfully changing the ways women access and use technology. While Internet use and mobile phone ownership are on the rise across the world, the gap between men and women’s adoption of these technologies continues to grow. This disparity—called the gender digital divide—further entrenches gender inequality and oppression, as social and economic engagement on digital platforms have become pivotal components of everyday life and work. The potential transformative impact of digital technology will only result in long-term economic growth and social change if digital technology reaches women, particularly low-income women, who are critical to successful and sustainable development.
The USAID WomenConnect Challenge was created in 2018 to inspire, uncover, and develop effective, culturally appropriate interventions that target the root causes of the gender digital divide. Early rounds of WCC funded a number of small-scale projects to determine the effectiveness of various approaches, and later rounds focused on bringing these proven solutions to scale in concert with private sector actors.