The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, has partnered with CES —the world’s largest and most influential technology event—to launch a Global Tech Challenge to bridge the digital gender divide. Here’s why:
Over 300 million fewer women access the internet in low-and-middle-income countries than men. This divide has persisted and is in fact widening in some regions. Barriers to digital equality are linked, among other factors, to availability of infrastructure, financial constraints, interest and perceived relevance of digital technologies, and socio-cultural and institutional contexts.
Addressing the gender digital divide is crucial to ensuring sustainability of women’s livelihood. This is particularly the case during crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic when connectivity is key. Historically, leaving structural gender inequalities out of the crisis response has further compounded those inequalities. At times like this, we need to emphasize the importance of digital access for women.
- Access to mobile phones can help gain access to key information for women, at a time when access to their traditional information channels may be limited.
- Access to information and communication technologies can ensure that women have access to mobile money, helping poverty outcomes for female-headed households. As countries implement unconditional cash transfer programs, enabling women to access money can improve their household bargaining power.
- Access to mobile phones during area-wide quarantines can help women seek emotional support and advice as they shoulder more care work within the household.
We will reward scalable, innovative technological solutions that seek to empower women in four areas. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we will accept rapid response applications to fast track implementation of sustainable solutions around digital access and online content. The deadline for rapid response solutions is extended to May 4, 2020. The deadline for regular solutions is extended to June 1, 2020.
- Platforms: Solutions that increase the availability of locally relevant digital platforms catering to women. For example, local marketplaces and solutions building online communities for women.
- Digital skills: Solutions that support the development of digital skills by women and girls. For example, applications that use personalized and adaptive learning to teach basic, intermediate or advanced digital skills.
- Online content: Solutions that increase the availability of women-oriented content. For example, locally relevant content on reproductive health or to combat gender-based violence.
- Enhancing digital access: Solutions that focus on innovative business models that make it easier for women to access and use digital technologies and enable the use of digital identification, such as pay-as-you-go and other models that promote women's sustained use of mobile internet.