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New Intel Initiative Aims to 'Connect' Women and Technology in Developing Countries

Indian women browse the Internet at an e-learning center at Munkakulam village in Kerala. | Image credit: AFP photo 2012

Intel Corporation has announced She Will Connect, a new program that commits to expanding digital literacy skills to young women in developing countries. Intel will begin working with a diverse set of partners including global and local NGOs and governments to launch the initiative in Africa, where the gender gap is the greatest, aiming to reach five million women and reduce the gender gap by 50 percent.

Intel’s "Women and the Web" report released in January revealed concrete data on the enormous Internet gender gap in the developing world and the social and economic benefits of securing Internet access for women. The report issued a call to action for stakeholders to double the number of women and girls online in developing countries in three years. According to Intel, the goal of She Will Connect is to not only provide digital literacy skills to girls and women, but also to push the concept of digital literacy forward through new, innovative and scalable models.

"The Internet has transformed the lives of billions of people," said Shelly Esque, VP of Intel's Corporate Affairs Group and president of the Intel Foundation. "It functions as a gateway to ideas, resources and opportunities that never could have been realized before, but our research shows that girls and women are being left behind. We believe that closing the Internet gender gap has tremendous potential to empower women and enrich their lives as well as all the lives they touch."

In conjunction with She Will Connect, Intel pledged a 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action and is celebrating the United Nations' second International Day of the Girl on October 11. The theme for this year's International Day of the Girl emphasizes the importance of girls' education worldwide.

"When we think about what the world is going to look like in the coming 20 years, we have to do more to make sure that women as well as men, girls as well as boys are empowered to use new technology to further their own aspirations," said Secretary Hillary Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative 2013 annual meeting last week.

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

  • Online Gaming Platform — Intel is developing an online gaming platform to innovate the delivery of digital literacy content through an interactive, engaging approach for smartphones and tablets in a game-infused environment. With the gaming platform, learning can take place in a mediated environment, individually, across devices and in the context of a peer network.
  • Peer Network — Intel and World Pulse are working together to integrate World Pulse's digital empowerment training into existing digital literacy programs and connect women to a safe and supportive peer network. Through the World Pulse platform, women can exchange ideas, find support and mentorship, and obtain relevant content tailored for women. This innovative approach will push the field of digital literacy so learning can take place not only as an individual in a shared computing environment but also through peers.

Beyond Africa, Intel is expanding on its ongoing commitment to empower girls and women globally with continued work in India, with a goal to reach one million women with Intel's Easy Steps digital literacy training program in the next year. In Latin America, Intel is partnering with several governments and organizations providing digital literacy training with a special focus on fostering entrepreneurial skills in Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

In addition to launching She Will Connect, Intel is celebrating International Day of the Girl by building on its strong culture of employee volunteerism for Global Giveback Day. Championed by leaders from the Intel Network of Executive Women and the Women at Intel Network, employees will collaborate with organizations in support of education and empowerment of girls and women. Intel is also hosting screenings of the transformational film Girl Rising around the world on October 11 to raise global visibility about the importance of educating girls.

Intel was one of several companies pledging actions to empower women in developing countries at the Clinton Global Initiative last week. At the event, Marriott announced a partnership with more than a dozen corporations and NGOs for a five-year commitment to expand its engagement with female-owned businesses outside the United States, especially in emerging economies. Working with WEConnect International and Vital Voices, two prominent NGOs that support and promote the economic potential of women, Marriott has pledged to train 15,000 female business owners throughout the world and spend $1.5 billion with their companies by 2018.


Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor at Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]


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