An Initiative to Empower Women’s Digital Connectivity

Explore the “Connecting the Unconnected” Challenge, an initiative designed to bridge the digital divide and empower women’s access to the internet.

The Prevailing Challenge

A digital revolution is upon us, but not all are privileged to ride this wave. More than just a convenience, internet connectivity has become a necessity.

We see a digital divide that presents a substantial roadblock to the progress of women worldwide, particularly in developing nations.

The “Connecting the Unconnected” initiative aims to bridge the gap by prioritizing women’s internet access.

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The crux of the issue is that globally, 2.9 billion individuals lack internet connectivity, a problem that was aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNESCO data reveals significant gender disparities in internet usage across various regions.

Women in multiple African, Asian, and South American countries are 30-50% less likely than men to access the internet.

Globally, the gender divide is also visible with women being 23% less likely to access mobile internet compared to men.

The Ramifications of the Divide

As we embrace the era of digitalization, the consistent exclusion of women from digital platforms will worsen economic and gender disparities, thus hampering inclusive and sustainable development.

Internet connectivity is not a luxury; it is a vital lifeline and an empowering tool.

It empowers education, drives commerce, and underpins the overall well-being of communities.

The absence of connectivity results in communities being excluded from the online market and students being deprived of abundant opportunities for remote learning.

A Path Ahead: “Connecting the Unconnected” Challenge

Addressing the gender-based digital divide is at the heart of this challenge.

This year’s “Connecting the Unconnected” Challenge, jointly organized by IEEE and USAID, aims to spotlight the persistent inequalities faced by women in accessing, integrating with, and benefiting from digital technology.

To fuel innovation and creative solutions, the challenge invites participation from start-ups, grassroots organizations, university projects, and other groups focused on bridging the digital divide. Deadline: July 3, 2023.

Rewarding Innovation

Prize: $109,000 USD across multiple categories.

One category that deserves special mention is the “Best Overall Gender Inclusion Proof-of-Concept” to be introduced in the 2023 CTU Challenge.

This prize will recognize the contestant from any category whose project or solution significantly contributes to narrowing the gender digital divide.

Achievements can take many forms: innovative technology applications to boost internet access or enable connectivity, ground-breaking business models increasing the affordability of internet access, or creative programs enhancing community empowerment and promoting internet usage among previously disconnected populations.

How to Participate?

For Phase 1, participants are asked to submit an abstract of approximately 500 words and provide responses to essential questions.

Seize this opportunity to make a difference by submitting your project or idea that can bridge the digital divide and connect the unconnected!

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FAQs

Eligibility: Who can participate in the “Connecting the Unconnected” challenge?

Any early-stage projects, start-ups, grassroots organizations, university projects, and other groups working to bridge the digital divide can participate.

What is the prize amount for the challenge?

The total prize money for this year’s challenge is $109,000, to be distributed across multiple categories.

What is the deadline for application submissions?

Submit your applications before July 3, 2023.

What is required for Phase 1 participation?

Participants need to submit an abstract of approximately 500 words and provide responses to essential questions.


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