This blog was posted on behalf of Suraj Shah. Suraj is the Africa Programs Manager at Intel and is dedicated to reducing gender disparities for women in Africa through technology skills and internet access.
The Intel® She Will Connect program was launched by Intel at the Clinton Global Initiative on September 30, 2013. The program was created with the goal of reducing gender disparities in employment and income for young women in Africa by increasing access to technology and to the internet. In June 2014, after extensive planning and program development, implementation of She Will Connect began with the global goal of reaching 5 million women by 2020. We started in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa based on the Women and the Web report that revealed the internet gender gap is widest in Sub Saharan Africa. Through an innovative combination of skills training and gender-relevant content, I can proudly say our program is enabling girls and women to acquire or improve digital literacy skills and expand their understanding and use of technology. Participants are showing us they can connect to healthcare, government, and educational information in addition to economic opportunities, and gender-specific resources because of the skills they have learned.
We have had determination from the beginning to make a lasting impact, but how are we doing? The Intel She Will Connect program has definitely progressed and evolved over the last four years, here’s how:
Momentum to our global goal. We remain committed to our global goal of reaching 5 million women by 2020. Our reach goal entails making women aware of the opportunities presented by being online, ways to search the internet, online safety and other resources. For example, we have partnered with Internet.Org through Facebook to avail our content on Free Basics in 21 African Countries. These resouces enable women to learn about our program and familiarize themselves with the benefits of being online, without having to pay for internet access. Through these initiatives, we have currently reached 2.5 million women and estimate we will reach 3 million women by the end of 2017.
Creating additional impact. To validate the positive impact of our efforts, we recently started keeping track of the number of women who have used their new digital literacy skills to bring about a socio-economic change to their lives. The factors of change include gaining employment, startups, more profitable businesses, access to microfinance, access to further education, and social ventures. Since 2016 we have measured 1,500 women whose socio-economic positions have been positively impacted by the Intel She Will Connect program and expect to reach 2,300 women by end of 2017. By early 2018 we will have verified statistics on the impact our program has created for women in Africa as we complete the first monitoring and evaluation exercise in our focus countries: Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
Implementation adaptations. The program has maintained a dynamic approach,adapting our tactics to achieve optimum impact. Some of our partners have retained a classroom model for training women we launched the program with, where community centres are based in communities. Others have adopted a more mobile approach, delivering training to where the women are through the Intel She Will Connect Caravan and KIO Kits. We very quickly recognized the need to reach women where they are and have worked with our local partners to supported various outreach models to ensure we are able to do just that.
Program expansion. With our work in Africa showing tangible results, we were excited to increase our scope to empower more girls and women. In 2017, The Intel She Will Connect program was expanded to the United States. Girls and women in mature markets are using technology more than ever before but relatively few girls and women are playing a role in creating this technology or pursuing studies in the technology, engineering, and computer science (subjects critical to technology and engineering careers). Intel is looking to inspire U.S. middle school girls in disenfranchised communities to become future innovators and spark their interest in technology-related studies. We are focusing on programs and partnerships that emphasize hands-on activities, use peer mentors and role models, and make a clear connection between technology careers and real world applications that drive positive social impact.
The successful implementation and expansion of a program of this magnitude is a direct result of an eco-system of robust global and local partners whose vision and goals are broadly aligned to that of our own. While our global partners have helped create awareness, and provide networking and economic opportunities to women who go through the program, a huge part of our success metrics is due to our local implementation partners both in Africa and the United States.
As I reflect on the last four years, I am encouraged by the progress we have made, thankful for the great parnters along the way, eager to reach our goals, and hopeful girls and women everywhere will feel encouraged to harness the power of technology to change the world.
Free Basics content: www.shewillconnect.intel.com
More info: intel.com/connect