USAID Launches the WomenConnect Challenge

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For Immediate Release

Thursday, March 8, 2018
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email:

Today, USAID Administrator Mark Green and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump launched USAID's latest initiative to empower women around the world, the WomenConnect Challenge.  The Challenge will identify and support solutions to increase the access to, and the use of, digital technology, by women and girls to drive positive health, education, and livelihood outcomes for themselves and their families.

The first round of the WomenConnect Challenge will provide more than $1,000,000 in award money.  Individual award amounts will depend on the scale of the innovative solutions proposed.

The WomenConnect Challenge will open for submissions from March 8 until May 4.  USAID is seeking ideas that close the digital divide by helping more women and girls get connected, as well as those that advance and empower women and girls through technology.  The goal is to move beyond traditional interventions to those that address the underlying causes that keep women and girls offline and unconnected.

Women's empowerment is a core USAID development objective that is fundamental for the realization of human rights, and key to fulfilling the Administrator's vision for helping countries on their way to self-reliance.  USAID knows that investing in women produces a multiplier effect.  Around the world, women reinvest 90 cents of every dollar they make back into their families and communities, which furthers economic growth, security, and stability.  

Today's launch coincides with International Women's Day, a yearly event to celebrate achievements toward gender equality and women's empowerment around the world.


Technology offers a lifeline to critical healthcare, opportunities for education, civic participation, entrepreneurship, and access to financing that were once out of reach for many people.

Yet, just as digital technology is accelerating change in societies and economies around the world, women are being left behind.  Today, 1.7 billion women in low- and middle-income countries still do not own mobile phones, and the gender gap around Internet usage has grown steady over the past three years.

This digital gender divide is reinforcing the existing socioeconomic gaps between women and men.


The WomenConnect Challenge is a global call for solutions designed to close the gender digital divide. USAID will test the promising pilot approaches, with technical assistance and financial support, and then scale proven solutions for maximum reach and result.  The WomenConnect Challenge will follow this timeline:

  • Stage 1: Identifying and Testing Solutions: Starting March 2018;
  • Stage 2: Transitioning Proven Solutions to Scale: Starting January 2019.


For more information, and to join us in empowering women all across the world through this exciting opportunity, please visit or contact:

Lorin Kavanaugh-Ulku
USAID Grand Challenges for Development Senior Adviser
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20523

Last updated: October 04, 2021

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