We believe that when girls and women are connected to the world through technology, they are connected to a world of opportunity. Technology, and the Internet, in particular, has transformed the lives of billions of people. It functions as a gateway to ideas, resources, and opportunities that never could have been realized before. All around the world, the Internet is helping people to imagine new possibilities. But girls and women are being left behind. The Opportunity for Impact.
As the Internet can provide enormous economic, social and professional value, the Internet gender gap has very serious consequences for women and for society more broadly. To better understand the gap, Intel commissioned the report “Women and the Web”, consulting with the U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, UN Women, and World Pulse, a global network for women. The report examined women’s access to and use of the Internet in low and middle-income countries and found that, on average, nearly 25% fewer women than men are online in developing countries.
This represents 200 million fewer women than men online today. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the size of the gap is 43%— the largest across all the regions in the study. Key barriers to access identified in the report included affordability, lack of awareness of the benefits of getting connected, lack of familiarity and comfort with technology, and cultural norms and gender-based barriers. Key opportunities associated with women gaining access to the Internet include improvements in self-esteem and expression expanding their social and political participation; new skills that enable them to obtain a formal education, become entrepreneurs, or secure employment; and access to information and new connections within their communities and beyond. Bringing more women online also has potentially significant economic benefits; the report shows that this would contribute an estimated USD 13 to USD 18 billion to annual GDP across 144 developing countries.
Collaborating to Close the Gap
In direct response to the findings of the Women and the Web report, Intel and its partners developed the Intel® She Will Connect program to reduce the Internet gender gap around the world, through an innovative combination of digital literacy training, an online peer network, and gender-relevant content. The program will begin in sub-Saharan Africa where the gap is the greatest, with initial pilots in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. The goal is to reach 5 million young women in Africa. As a result of this effort, these young women will have the opportunity to acquire or improve digital literacy skills and expand their understanding and use of technology so that they can connect to health, government, and educational information, economic opportunities, and gender-specific resources. Consequently, these young women will be able to receive a better education, enhance their political participation, have a stronger voice in their communities, and increase their income by connecting to new economic opportunities.
Intel She Will Connect brings together a range of global and local partners, with strong gender, ICT, and development programming expertise, relevant content for women, computing infrastructure, and experience providing digital literacy training. Key program elements include:
- Digital literacy skills. Improve digital literacy skillsby integrating digital literacy training into gender and development programs in shared computing environments (such as telecenters), where women can access hardware, software, Internet connectivity, and ongoing support. Intel will also develop an online interactive learning platform so that learning can take place individually or in a mediated environment, across devices, and in the context of a peer network.
- Online peer network. Improve access and relevance of the Internet through women- tailored content and a peer network. Through this initiative, women will be able to find content that is relevant to them. As part of its digital literacy efforts, Intel will also provide women with safe, online access to communities and networks through World Pulse, where women can exchange ideas, find support and mentorship, stay connected, and search user-generated content.
- Content and resources. Connect participants to gender-relevant content and resources provided by program partners and other organizations, including education resources, financial and health information, and employability and entrepreneurship skills.