Despite decades of work towards achieving gender equality, the disparities between men and women across education, income, and economic opportunities worldwide, persist. More recently, the outbreak of COVID-19 has significantly set back these efforts. For instance, in India, the World Bank reports that female participation in the workforce declined from 20.3% in 2019, to 16.1% in 2020. Underlining the economic impact of women’s equality, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated a boost of 27% to India’s GDP with the equal participation of women in the workforce.
We've long known the clear and close relationship between gender equity, economic participation, and digital inclusion. In 2015, we launched the Internet Saathi program together with Tata Trust, investing our efforts in narrowing the digital gender divide. Over its six years of running, the program benefited over 30 million women across India through digital literacy training provided by over 80,000 Internet Saathis.
In continuation of our commitment to advance women and girls' empowerment, earlier this year on International Women’s Day, we announced several new efforts: the launch of the Women Will web platform to help 1 Million rural women in India start on their entrepreneurial journey; Google.org provided a USD$500,000 grant to NASSCOM Foundation to reach digital and financial literacy training to 100,000 women agri workers in six Indian states; and the launch of the $25 million Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls with a call to gender equity-focused organizations around the world to submit their boldest and most innovative ideas to create a more equitable economic reality for women and girls.
$2.5 Million grants to three local nonprofits with Google.org's support
Today, our philanthropic arm, Google.org announced the 34 funding recipients of the Google.org Impact Challenge for Women & Girls from across 19 countries. The response was greater than we have seen for any other Google.org Impact Challenge. The 7,800 applications showed us that most of these organizations are focused on four areas: Skills Development & Career Advancement, Entrepreneurship & Businesses, Education, Financial Independence & Support
We’re extremely proud that three local recipients have been selected as part of this Challenge - Samhita - CGF, Pratham Education Foundation, and SwaTaleem Foundation. They will each receive funding to scale their projects in areas of skills development, education, and financial support:
Samhita - CGF
With an USD$800,000 grant, the "REVIVE Alliance" project aims to provide interest-free "returnable" grants to 10,000 women who do not have access to traditional finance support systems to invest in digitization and cover their business needs. If a woman pays back the grant, she "graduates" and gains access to Samhita-CGF's banking and microfinance partners.
“With the help of Google.org Impact Challenge for Women & Girls, the REVIVE Alliance will be able to further our goal of providing access to finance to women in the informal sector who have been systematically excluded from the formal economy,” says Samhita-CGF founder, Priya Naik. “This capital and support comes at a critical time and will be used to provide returnable grants (a zero interest, zero collateral loan with a moral, not a legal, obligation to repay) and technical assistance for 10,000 women.”
The Samhita - CGF team
Pratham Education Foundation
Pratham will receive USD$1 million in funding to connect 7,000+ rural, unemployed young women to jobs in the beauty and health industry and the male-dominated automotive, mechanics, and electrical industries. Pratham Education will connect women to technology-enabled livelihood clubs and offer 300 to 500 hours of all-expenses-paid training to help women gain accreditation from India's National Skills Development Corporation.
Dr. Rukmini Banerji, CEO of Pratham Education says, “We are very excited about this new funding from Google.org and with this support, we hope to raise awareness, increase access, enhance abilities and support thousands of women as they pursue their aspirations. It is an opportunity for us to reach more communities and improve the effectiveness of our training programs.”
Pratham Education is focused on helping rural women gain employment across various sectors
With a USD$700,000 grant, SwaTaleem and Humane Warriors will educate historically marginalized girls and women in rural India through a creative, low-tech platform. Through an app and automated audio files played on speaker phones, it circumvents the need for the Internet while providing girls access to traditional subjects such as math and science, as well as socio-emotional and financial literacy training such as how to open a bank account. A pilot program was designed for 900 girls and families, providing continued education despite pandemic lockdowns in regions where access to Internet is low and prevalence of child marriage is high. With Humane Warriors, it aims to reach another 5,000 girls over the next two years.
Sharing her thoughts about receiving this grant, Ananya Tiwari, co-founder of SwaTaleem Foundation shares, “It is important to understand that the digital divide is gendered and the solutions to navigate it must incorporate working with other decision making stakeholders who surround girls. With the help of Google, our idea aims to create an ecosystem that supports the girls as a collective but we also want to focus on the process of achieving this - through respect and empathy for the communities we work with.
SwaTaleem has also been selected among four other global funding recipients to receive dedicated Ad Grants support from a Google Account Manager to reach more educators and supporters online with Google Search Ads at no cost.
Helping underrepresented girls gain access to subjects including math, science and financial literacy
To support and advance this investment, Google.org, Google's Accelerator team, and Women Techmakers will run a four-month global virtual accelerator program where highly skilled Googlers will provide pro bono support that includes training, networking, and mentorship.
As we continue to invest in efforts to extend opportunities to women to reach their potential, and enhance their lives, and that of their families, communities, and the economy, partnerships with organizations such as these will be key. We’re encouraged by the variety of approaches they are taking and their ongoing impact, and excited to support their work where it matters most.