WomenConnect Challenge

Two women look at a smartphone


What is the Digital Gender Divide?

Digital and mobile tools have revolutionized our world. Across all industries and segments of society, digital technologies have opened the doors to unprecedented growth and spurred a new wave of innovation that is dramatically improving lives. Despite this remarkable growth, over 55 percent of the world’s population remains unconnected, including 1.7 billion women in low- and middle-income countries. High costs of devices and internet service, lack of digital literacy, and restrictive social norms disproportionately impact women, excluding many from the opportunities digital tools and services provide. While the reach of digital technologies continues to rapidly expand, the gap between men and women accessing the internet has widened over the last three years. This growing digital gender divide can perpetuate high levels of poverty by limiting women’s access to information and services for health, safety and education for both themselves and their families.

Bridging the Digital Gender Divide

The digital gender divide cannot be bridged by focusing on a single barrier to women’s access and usage of digital technology. Instead, a successful solution must offer a holistic approach that addresses affordability, digital skills, and restrictive social norms, such as lack of security and trust.

Women of Takalafiya-Lapai village (Niger State) are beneficiaries of Nigeria's Fadama II project.
Women of Takalafiya-Lapai village (Niger State) are beneficiaries of Nigeria's Fadama II project. / Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank

Building off of the innovative spirit of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, USAID welcomes proposals from innovators that offer comprehensive approaches to address the multiple aspects of the digital gender divide. We invite you to learn more and join us in the search for solutions to close the digital gender divide when we issue an open call for proposals in early 2018.


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Last updated: December 04, 2017

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