Women in the Digital Economy Fund: USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Partners Launch WiDEF

NEW YORK, N.Y., March 12, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Women in the Digital Economy Fund (WiDEF), a five-year $60.5 million investment to accelerate progress on closing the global gender digital divide, announces its first call for applications with recorded remarks from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power.

Founded by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—and first announced by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in Accra, Ghana in March 2023—WiDEF will now begin identifying, funding, and accelerating investment in proven solutions to close the gender digital divide.

​”The gender digital divide hinders development progress—ingraining existing inequities into the fabric of societies of the future, creating a self-perpetuating cycle that drives further disparities. We need a future in which women are empowered to participate as equal citizens in our increasingly digital world. We look forward to working together to achieve that vision,” said Samantha Power, Administrator, USAID.

“I’m proud of our support for the Women in the Digital Economy Fund. Overcoming the gender digital divide is crucial to unlock the potential of women in the digital era. By increasing women’s participation in digital technology, we’re aiming not just to change their status from consumers to creators and leaders; we’re working to forge a path to a future where everyone benefits,” said Anita Zaidi, President of the Gender Equality Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This event, which brought together leaders from across the public and private sectors and civil society worldwide, was an opportunity to celebrate the start of this effort and learn about how WiDEF will implement its ambitious vision. Representing the Biden-Harris Administration at today’s kickoff event was Rachel Vogelstein, White House Gender Policy Council Deputy Director.

Advancing access to digital technology for all women and girls is critical to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This will help ensure that everyone has access to economic opportunities and advancement as well as government services, education, and healthcare.

In low- and middle-income countries, nearly one and a half billion women lack access to online services. Through 2022, there were 259 million more men than women globally using the internet; a gap that has cost the global economy an estimated $1 trillion. Closing the gender digital divide would increase economic activity by an estimated $524 billion by 2025.

WiDEF is administered by consortium partners CARE, Global Digital Inclusion Partnership (GDIP), and the GSMA Foundation. The consortium will collaborate with industry-leading organizations to effectively engage local and global private sector actors and funders to advance a shared set of commitments to closing the gender digital divide.

“WiDEF is about putting millions of women at the center of connectivity and information programming. CARE brings our strength in locally led, gender-centered programming in over 100 countries to the effort. The consortium’s collective focus on technology, policy, and gender advocacy offers the greatest opportunity yet to create and sustain an internet that works for the women who could most benefit from it,” said Revi Sterling, WiDEF Technical Director and CARE Senior Technical Director, Digital Inclusion.

“Launching WiDEF is indeed a special moment, one that reflects real commitment and determination to address the stubborn gender digital divide and open the possibilities for women in the digital economy. GDIP is committed to women’s digital inclusion, and we look forward to advocating alongside our global partners to advance this collective effort,” said Sonia Jorge, GDIP Executive Director.

“Closing the gender digital divide has been at the centre of the GSMA Foundation’s work for over a decade, and we are extremely honoured to play an active role in the management of the Women in the Digital Economy Fund. We now look forward to receiving applications to the first round launched today, and to the further two rounds to be announced later this year, focused on large private sector actors, and India specifically,” said Max Cuvellier Giacomelli, Head of Mobile for Development, GSMA.

WiDEF will support and fund programs that advance digital access and affordability; develop relevant products and tools; provide digital literacy and skills training; promote online safety and security; and invest in sex-disaggregated data and research. It will support, wherever possible, women-led and gender transformative solutions, products, and tools and will invest heavily in ensuring the voices and institutions closest to the gender digital divide are central to the effort.

As part of today’s event, WiDEF announced the first call for applications, inviting local institutions worldwide to apply to receive WiDEF funding and support. Applications are due by May 6, 2024.

In addition to financial support from USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, funding is also being provided by Microsoft and the Korean International Cooperation Agency.

To learn more, email contact@widef.global, visit us online at widef.global or follow WiDEF on social media (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter/X).

About CARE
Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls. Equipped with the proper resources, women and girls have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. This year, CARE and partners worked in 109 countries implementing 1,671 poverty-fighting development and humanitarian aid projects and initiatives that reached 167,000,000 people. To learn more, visit www.care.org.

About GDIP
The Global Digital Inclusion Partnership (GDIP) is a coalition of public, private, and civil society organizations working to bring internet connectivity to the global majority and ensure everyone is meaningfully connected by 2030. Founded by a global team of experts who successfully championed affordable and meaningful connectivity around the world, GDIP advances digital opportunities to empower and support people’s lives and agency, leading to inclusive digital societies.

GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation
The GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation, Inc. (‘The GSMA Foundation’) brings together mobile operators, innovators, governments, and the international development community to realise the positive social, economic and climate impact of mobile technology, primarily in low- and middle-income countries. With funding from donors and the GSMA, the GSMA Foundation runs programmes that advance digital and financial inclusion – with a strong focus on gender inclusivity, climate action, humanitarian response, and investment in innovative digital solutions. Since 2007, these programmes have impacted the lives of over 220 million people.

Michael de Vulpillieres
+1 929 944 1582

GlobeNewswire Distribution ID 9062253

Deputy Health Minister-designate advocates setting up clinics at markets

Mr Alexander Kwasi Acquah, a Deputy Health Minister-Designate, advocated the setting up of clinics at marketplaces as part of efforts to bring healthcare services to the doorstep of the people.

‘To have clinics in various markets because a lot of people, normally will not want to take seriously their health; but if you have a facility within the market, it becomes easier for them to check on their health randomly,’ he said.

‘And so, together with the Ministry of local Government it becomes something that we have to push so hard to bring healthcare to the doorstep of our people.’

‘Which is a concept that if you give me the nod, I will partner my Minister, I will strongly advise my Minister for us to look at it.’

The nominee made the suggestion during his vetting at the public sitting of the Appointments Committee of Parliament in Accra.

Mr Acquah, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) of Akim Oda, and an investor in hospitals and mortuaries, said his experience with private healthcare de
livery and in the hospital business was enough to enable him to support his Minister to implement Government’s policies to improve private participation in healthcare delivery.

Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Appointments Committee, asked Mr Acquah to tell the committee how difficult it was to run a hospital.

‘Mr Chairman, it is not too difficult, and it is not too easy, because the initial capital outlay is so much; I was very lucky to have regime that made it easier for some of us to contract loans and so, one hospital after the other, we were able to break even in seven years,’ he answered.

‘Then it became easier for the banks to have confidence in what we were running and so they came to us to set up some of these facilities at other places.’

He noted that so far, he had set up five hospitals and four mortuaries.

The hospitals are located at Akim Oda and Kokorantumi, both in the Eastern Region, Ashaiman, Ashongman and Kaneshie in the Greater Accra Region.

Ghana News Agency

KATH management engaging with striking doctors

The management of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi is engaging with the leadership of the medical doctors in the facility to resolve issues which have led to a strike action at the facility.

Doctors of the Hospital on Wednesday, March 13, began a strike action in solidarity with their colleagues who are being ejected from their official residences.

These official accommodations are situated at Danyame, a prime area in Kumasi, which is part of the 400-acre government lands, the Supreme Court had ruled that it should be reversed to the Manhyia palace.

A notice of eviction was served on the affected doctors about a year ago, but no alternative accommodation had been found by the management of KATH for the doctors.

Last week, a one-week ultimatum was issued to the affected doctors to vacate the area to enable the private developers to take over the land and this had led to the impasse between the doctors and the management of the hospital.

Dr Michael Leat, Chairman of KATH branch of the Gh
ana Medical Association, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that the continued intimidation and harassment by the private developer had occasioned the strike action by the doctors.

He said the management of KATH had not yet given alternative accommodation to about 20 doctors who had been asked to vacate the area.

In solidarity with the affected doctors, their colleague doctors have joined them in the strike.

However, the strike only affected new cases coming to the Hospital while old cases are being attended to.

Mr Kwame Frimpong, Public Relation Officer (PRO), of the Hospital told the Ghana News Agency during a visit to the facility that management was aware of the situation and was taking steps to resolve and address the concerns of the doctors.

He said several meetings had been held with the leadership of the association to plead with them to exercise restraints in line with their duty.

Mr Frimpong said management was currently engaging the Regional Coordinating Council, the Lands Commission,
and the private developers for an amicable settlement of the issue.

Some of the patients who spoke with the GNA recounted how they were disappointed after trekking several hours, only to meet the absence of doctors at the facility.

They appealed to the Hospital authorities to urgently find a solution to the problem.

Source: Ghana News Agency

ECG to disconnect about 10 Hospitals in Eastern Region

The National Taskforce of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is preparing to disconnect approximately 10 Hospitals in the Eastern Region from the national grid, due to outstanding arrears owed to the power distributor.

The Ghana News Agency (GNA) found out that the ECG, several health facilities would experience power outages within 48 hours after receiving a demand notice.

Health facilities that would be affected include: the Abirim District Hospital, Asamankese Hospital, Begoro Government Hospital, Kibi Government Hospital, Koforidua SDA Hospital, Kwahu Government Hospital, St. Dominic Hospital, and Akuse Government Hospital.

These Hospitals owe the electricity distribution company to the tune of GHS21,031,322.

In an interview with Mr Charles Oware Tweneboah, the District Chief Executive for Fanteakwa North, he said discussions were underway with the ECG to find a suitable solution to the problem, and to avoid the power cut at the Begoro Government Hospital.

The action being taken by the ECG is a c
omponent of its continuing nationwide mobilisation efforts to collect unpaid debt from clients to support its business operations.

Meanwhile, a source at the ECG Yilo Krobo District office, told the GNA that in no time, a demand notice would be served to the management of the health facility there.

The Managment of the Yilo Krobo District Hospital, however, refused to speak on the development so far when contacted.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Norsaac trains patrons, mentors on advocacy campaigns on SRHR

A two-day workshop has been held in Tamale to train community advocates, mentors, and school patrons, to campaign and increase visibility on issues of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).

Participants were drawn from various schools and communities in Sagnarigu and Savelugu Municipalities of the Northern Region.

The training was organised by Norsaac, a Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) as part of its implementation of the Power to Choose Project (P2C), which is in partnership with Oxfam in Ghana.

Mr Hamza Abdallah, the Manager of the P2C Project at Norsaac, said the workshop was to help participants to develop compelling advocacy campaigns to influence policies on SRHR.

It will also equip them with the needed communication and advocacy techniques to help minimise teenage pregnancies, child marriages, and Sexual and Gender-based Violence whilst safeguarding adolescent reproductive health rights of girls and women.

He appealed to the government to prioritise the swift implementation of vario
us policies and programmes, especially the Affirmative Action Bill, to ensure that reproductive health rights of adolescent girls and young women were guaranteed.

Mr Archibald Adams, the Communications, Media, and Public Engagement Coordinator at Oxfam in Ghana, took participants through various applicable communication channels and how they could effectively use them to create positive change in the communities.

He entreated them to create a good rapport with their schools and communities to ensure the free flow of information for policymakers to act upon for inclusivity.

Mrs Ruka Al-Hassan, the Coordinator for School Health Education Programme in the Savelugu Municipality, said there was the need for girls and women, who were victims of SRHR, to speak up on issues affecting their well-being to attract the needed interventions.

The participants developed advocacy campaign strategies to be executed in their schools and communities to enable them to reach out to a wider audience with informative messages.

Source: Ghana News Agency

CHANGE Project launched to benefit over 142,000 marginalised people in Northern Ghana

A total of 142,347 vulnerable people comprising of 76,867 females, 16,987 children, and 65,480 male parents, from three regions in the northern Ghana are to benefit from a five-year project on improving nutrition.

The Project, dubbed: ‘Championing Nutrition and Gender Equality’ (CHANGE), will reach out to about 108 communities in the beneficiary districts, 27 health facilities, including nine health centres and 18 Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS).

The project is being implemented by Children Believe, an international NGO, in partnership with Norsaac, an NGO, among other government agencies with funding support from Global Affairs Canada.

The beneficiary districts include; Tolon, Kumbungu, Nanumba South, Kasena-Nankana West, Builsa South, Sawla-Tuna-Kalba, Bole and East Gonja Districts in the Northern, Upper East and Savannah Regions.

Madam Ethel Sakitey, the Chief of Party, CHANGE Project, said it was to help improve nutrition for the poorest and marginalised groups especially, among ch
ildren, adolescent girls, and women.

It would target pregnant, lactating, and marginalised women aged between 15 – 49 years old, to improve women leadership and control over resources for community and individual gender-equitable nutrition practices.

Again, the project would adopt an integrated and coherent approach to empower women with greater control over food security and livestock production, thus championing capacity building, fostering participatory and multi-stakeholder involvement, supporting systematic and sustainable changes, and enhancing the resilience of local communities through asset development and environmental protection.

She called on all stakeholders in the implementation areas to support the project to ensure that the marginalised were empowered for inclusive development.

Dr Belinda Bennet, the Chief International Programmes Officer, Children Believe, Canada, reiterated the organisation’s commitment to supporting women, children, and adolescents by providing them the needed opportuni
ties, while helping them to break barriers to succeed and thrive.

She said the organisation, over the years, had supported more than 5,000 children and about 14,000 vulnerable communities within the four regions in the north had been imparted through various interventions and programmes.

Martine Moreau, the High Commissioner of Canada to Ghana, said the Canadian Government’s support for the CHANGE Project, was a testament of its resolve to safeguarding the rights, and nutritional well-being of marginalised communities for sustainable development.

She said about 865,000 people in the northern part of the country had benefited from water, sanitation, and hygiene projects, which was supported by the Canadian Government, adding that the CHANGE Project would further improve on the livelihoods of the people.

Alhaji Shani Alhassan Saibu, the Northern Regional Minister, described the project as a game-changer, saying nutrition and gender inequalities were closely related to poverty, which also had a direct bearin
g on peace and security.

He said there were issues low birth weight, stunting and wasting amongst children in the north and gave assurance that with support of donor partners, ‘Government remains resolute and committed towards addressing these unacceptable health indicators and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Madam Veronica Quartey, a staff of the Ghana Health Service, commended Children Believe and partners for the project, saying it complemented government’s efforts at improving nutrition and well-being of the people.

Source: Ghana News Agency