About WomenConnect Challenge India
WomenConnect Challenge India
“When women rise, families flourish, communities grow, and countries prosper. A truly developed world has to be an equal world.” - Mrs. Nita M. Ambani, Founder and Chairperson, Reliance Foundation
The WomenConnect Challenge (WCCi) is a global call for solutions to improve women’s participation in everyday life by meaningfully changing the ways women access and use technology.
USAID and Reliance Foundation created WCCi in 2020 to help identify innovative solutions to bridge the gender digital divide across India. WCCi supports new approaches that close this gap, expand business opportunities for women, and support women to empower themselves and their communities.
WCCi grantees are addressing barriers limiting women's access to technology, laying the groundwork for sustainable solutions in their communities, and connecting nearly 6 million women in 16 countries, so that women can fully participate in the global economy.
Meet the Organizations
USAID and Reliance Foundation created the WomenConnect Challenge India in 2020 to help identify innovative solutions to bridge the gender digital divide across India. This Challenge supports new approaches that close this gap, expand business opportunities for women, and support women to empower themselves and their communities.
While most of the world is becoming increasingly connected, the gender gap in mobile internet use in some countries is over 51 percent. In 2017 only 19% of women in India were aware of mobile internet; in 2020 this increased to 53%. In terms of ownership, 67% of women own a mobile phone compared to 79% men. Advancing women’s digital connectivity is a key component to ensuring women’s economic empowerment. To date, USAID has funded three rounds of the WomenConnect Challenge grantees working to address barriers limiting women's access to technology and to connect nearly 6 million women in 16 countries.
In partnership with Reliance Foundation, this fourth round of the challenge focuses on India’s gender and technology gap and support solutions to improve women’s participation in everyday life by meaningfully changing the ways women access and use technology. From over 200 applications, 20 semi-finalists participated in the Solver’s Symposium (link) to help refine their proposals. Ten awardees were chosen in 2021 to apply local, culturally-contextual innovative solutions to closing the gender digital divide (link to an upcoming press release). This Community of Practice is intended to support and showcase their work while creating a space for all organizations involved in digital inclusion to collaborate and build momentum to close this gap for good!
USAID is the world's premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID works to help lift lives, build communities, advance democracy, and champions the cause of women empowerment across the globe. USAID's work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity; demonstrates American generosity; and helps countries progress along their development journey.
To date, USAID has 16 WomenConnect Challenge grantees in three different rounds working to address barriers limiting women’s access to technology and connecting nearly 6 million women in 16 countries. WomenConnect Round One, in 2018, awarded nine grants and WomenConnect Round Two, awarded three in 2019. Earlier this year, four winners were announced for WomenConnect Round Three.
Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Reliance Industries Limited, aims to play a catalytic role in addressing the nation’s development challenges through innovative and sustainable solutions. Led by Founder and Chairperson Smt. Nita Ambani, Reliance Foundation (RF) is relentlessly working towards facilitating transformative changes to ensure overall well-being and higher quality of life for all. Among India’s largest social initiatives, RF is focused on addressing the nation’s development challenges in Rural Transformation, Education, Health, Sports for Development, Disaster Response, Urban Renewal and Arts, Culture and Heritage. RF has touched the lives of more than 56.5 million people across India in more than 47,800 villages and several urban locations. Learn more: www.reliancefoundation.org
DAI works on the frontlines of global development. Transforming ideas into action—action into impact. DAI is committed to shaping a more livable world.
DAI has supported the WomenConnect Challenge by building a Community of Practice for awardee collaboration and engagement, planning webinars for WCCi Speakers Series, and providing wraparound program support.
Learn more: https://www.dai.com/
WCCi Round 1 Grantees
Ten organizations across India have been selected as grantees through the WomenConnect Challenge India, launched by Reliance Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
WCCi Round 2 Grantees
Seven organizations across India have been selected as grantees through Round 2 of the WomenConnect Challenge India, launched by Reliance Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Editor's Note | December 2023
I hope you have enjoyed the activities we conducted as part of our Community of Practice, over the last five months. Between July and December 2023, we discussed relevant topics such as Human-Centred Design, Cyber Harm, Protection and Safeguarding, Model tools developed by our past awardees to facilitate digital inclusion, Initiatives by the Government of India to combat gender digital divide, and Sustainability of initiatives. We invited experts to talk about these topics in our webinars; and invited grantees to think through the relevance of these topics in their work and write short blogs highlighting the same. This has resulted in 45 thought-provoking blog posts from awardees, between August and December; and we are yet to finish the blog writing exercise for the last topic of the series.
We are grateful for awardees' active participation in the webinars, on the CoP platform and for taking up the challenge of writing such brilliant blogs. We acknowledge awardees for taking the time to participate in this technical capacity building initiative of the Women Connect India Challenge initiative despite their busy schedules; and if this initiative has helped them strengthen their individual and institutional understanding of gender digital divide programming in ways it intended to do, then our job is done.
We wanted to congratulate all the awardees for their support to make this a success; and we hope to stay in touch with every one of you, 2024 and beyond.
Advisor – Gender | Digital Inclusion | DAI UK
Speakers Series 3.0 Webinar: Sustainability for Digital Inclusion Initiatives
Speakers Series 3.0 Webinar: Government Initiatives to Promote Digital Inclusion
Speakers Series 3.0 Webinar: Cyber Harm, Protection & Safeguarding
Speakers Series 3.0 Webinar: Tools for Digital Inclusion Interventions
Speakers Series 3.0 Webinar: Human-Centred Design
Speakers Series 2.0 Webinar: Women, Financial Inclusion and Entrepreneurship
GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report
The GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report explores the latest data on the mobile gender gap, the key barriers preventing women’s equal access to and use of mobile, and what is needed to close the mobile internet gender gap. It also highlights the socio-economic benefits of addressing these barriers for the mobile industry, the economy and society more broadly, and women themselves.
Financial Inclusion in India Report
The Financial Inclusion in India Report by Agenda for International Development provides an overview of financial inclusion in India by looking at current schemes and their achievements.
Gender Digital Divide UNICEF Report
This article highlights UNICEF's latest findings about how the digital world is mirroring gender inequality of the real world.
7 Lessons from Indian women who changed lives with digital technology
Learn more about the strategies behind the success of the WomenConnect Challenge.
G20 EMPOWER Digital Inclusion Platform
TechEquity serves as a platform that empowers women with essential digital skills and knowledge for success in the technology-centric modern era. Within this supportive environment, women can freely access engaging, interactive, and user-friendly self-learning course modules.
The Digital Shakti Initiative
Over the past three years, the Digital Shakti initiative has sensitized over 300,000 girls, women, and netizens with the goal of enhancing their resilience in online spaces.
Phase 4 began in November 2022 and intends to reach and sensitize one million girls, women, and netizens nationwide on online safety and digital literacy fundamentals.