UN Women and Intel aim to connect 5 million women in Africa

Intel® She Will Connect to reduce the gender gap, beginning with Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa

Date: 07 Mar 2014

New York

On the eve of International Women’s Day, officials gathered at the United Nations to discuss Intel® She Will Connect, a new programme poised to drive economic and social transformation for the women of Africa for decades to come. It seeks to expand digital literacy skills to 5 million young women over the next three years and reduce the gender gap by 50 per cent.

The forum was organized by UN Women in collaboration with Intel Corporation and the UN Missions of Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.  

“Equality in access to the Internet is a matter of human rights, women’s economic empowerment and poverty reduction,” said UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “We are very pleased to be collaborating with Intel, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa to connect young women to the Internet because equality for women is progress for all.”

Intel® She Will Connect will test a new model that integrates digital literacy with gender and development programming targeting women and girls.

“We know the transformational power of the Internet, including economic and educational opportunities, a community of support and career prospects. But research clearly shows that women are being left behind,” said Shelly Esque, Vice-President of Intel's Corporate Affairs Group and President of the Intel Foundation. “Intel She Will Connect aims to take action based on this evidence to bridge this gender gap and empower women through technology and education.”

With digital literacy skills, young women will have a better chance to increase their income, receive a better education, enhance their political participation and have a stronger voice in their communities. 

“She Will Connect is going to be hugely transformational to women, families and communities and is crucial for sustainable development,” said Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya. “We are very proud to be part of this.”

Deputy Ambassador Usman Sarki of Nigeria said, “Providing access to technology and reducing costs are key to empowering women in the Internet age. We welcome the She Will Connect initiative in Nigeria.”

The Deputy Ambassador of South Africa, Doctor Mashabane said, “South Africa is committed to expanding ICT access. She Will Connect is a concrete and practical initiative to roll out Internet access to young women for national development.”

Intel® She Will Connect is a direct result of findings in the groundbreaking "Women and the Web".  The report found that “[o]n average across the developing world, nearly 25 per cent fewer women than men have access to the Internet, and the gender gap soars to nearly 45 per cent in regions like sub-Saharan Africa.” Without concerted action to address gender-based barriers, it has been estimated that the Internet gender gap could grow to 350 million women in three years’ time.

“The research is clear and the call to action has been made,” said Melanne Verveer, former Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues at the U.S. Department of State. “Now is the time for collaboration to actively reduce the Internet gender gap and empower women around the world to enrich their lives.”

A report released by the Broadband Commission Working Group on Broadband and Gender, established by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), closely examined the role that information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the Internet can play in advancing gender equality agendas, including equal access to new technologies for women and girls. The report revealed that, around the world, women are coming online later and more slowly than men and highlighted that in developing countries, every 10 per cent increase in access to broadband translates to a 1.38 per cent growth in GDP. That means that bringing an additional 600 million women and girls online could boost global GDP by as much as USD 18 billion.

The most exciting new emerging market in the world could be women. Analysts believe that over the next decade the impact of women on the global economy – as producers, entrepreneurs, employees and consumers – could equal or exceed the impact of China’s or India’s one-billion-plus populations.