As digital technology is accelerating opportunities across the world, women are being left behind. Today, 1.1 billion women in low- and middle-income still do not have access to mobile internet, and the gap between men and women using the internet has grown steadily over the past five years according to the GSMA Global Gender Gap Report. This gender digital divide reinforces the existing socioeconomic gaps between women and men.

USAID will continue its commitment to advancing women’s social and economic empowerment by closing the gender digital divide. This initiative has developed tools and training to develop programs that help close the gender digital divide. The Innovation, Technology and Research Hub’s Technology Division has developed a Closing the Gender Digital Divide Toolkit that includes a Gender Digital Divide Primer, Desk Review, Gender Analysis Technical Resource and Risk Mitigation Technical Note. 

WomenConnect Challenge (WCC) and Microsoft Airband Partnership directly invest in projects that help close the gender digital divide. 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. To date, USAID has 12 WomenConnect Challenge grantees working to address barriers limiting women’s access to technology and to connect nearly 1.5 million women in 14 countries. 

This iniative encourages an approach to reducing the gender digital divide that integrates intersectionality and considers social norms from diverse identities (including factors such as sex, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, disability, indigenous identity, language minority, geography, etc.) For example, this GDD StoryMap provides an overview of barriers to closing the divide along with case studies in India, Indonesia, Senegal, and Guatemala to show how the divide manifests in each context, especially for marginalized groups. We also support an approach to reduce the gender digital divide that considers and addresses gaps in gender data. The lack of standardization on collected gender data, failure to capture sex-disaggregated data, and gaps in broader data collection practices due to social norms (i.e. collecting data beyond male or female) are barriers to obtaining accurate and comprehensive gender data, especially for the most marginalized groups. 

Additional Resources: 

Explore the Gender Digital Divide StoryMap 

Download the Gender Digital Divide Toolkit

Download the Gender Digital Divide Primer

Download the Gender Digital Divide Factsheet

The Digital Strategy team has also developed a set of self-guided videos to build the digital skills of USAID staff and partners on topics related to Closing the Gender Digital Divide. Explore the USAID Gender Digital Divide YouTube site to learn more!

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