A call for a better future for women and girls in Africa

Over the past year, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have posed major setbacks to hard-won social and economic gains for women around the world. Women in Africa are by no means exempt from the harsh aftershocks of the pandemic. In Kenya for example, 60% of recorded job losses since the beginning of the pandemic are accounted to women. 90% of working women in Africa are engaged in the informal sector which has been badly hit by reductions in social interaction, with approximately 81% lost in income in Sub-Saharan Africa. Reliance on the informal sector also limits women’s access to social safety nets like health insurance and unemployment benefits.

These alarming realities require swift and powerful action. We have a collective responsibility to make sure that generations of women and girls from all walks of life can live in a world where they are treated equally and reach their full potential.

This is why we are excited to launch our global Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls. We’re calling on ideas from nonprofits and social organizations around the world that are working to advance the economic empowerment of women and girls and create pathways to prosperity. Google.org will provide $25 million in overall funding and Impact Challenge grantees will receive mentoring from Googlers, Ad Grants and additional support to bring their ideas to life.

We are honored to stand alongside our partners from Vital Voices and Project Everyone, as well as our phenomenal panel of experts, to elevate the critical work that is happening around the world. Our panel is composed of women leaders from more than 15 countries across the world with a deep expertise in global public policy, advocacy, research, business, technology and more and includes the following from Africa - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Victoria Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to the presidency on Nigeria on SDGs; Graça MachelFounder, Graça Machel Trust, and Juliana Rotich, Kenyan information technology entrepreneur. They will help guide us as we select the ideas with the greatest potential for impact. 

Over the years, we have invested in a variety of programs to support women across all stages of life - from students, to jobseekers and entrepreneurs. Whether it is the 2.4M women trained in digital skills, 20 Women Will communities impacting 20,000 women through events and networking opportunities in countries like SA, NG, UG, KE & GH, or 142 ambassadors in 118 Women Techmakers chapters who drive diversity and inclusion in tech, we are committed to empowering women in leadership, digital literacy, workplace readiness and entrepreneurship.

To support women-led businesses, we have recently launched a women-led attribute on Google Search and Maps in English speaking regions. Through the $20M commitment made by our CEO, Sundar Pichai, in 2017, our philanthropic arm, Google.org, has prioritised funding to nonprofit organizations that support gender equity and access to opportunity for women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have worked with grantees, such as the Codex, Solar Sister, W.Tec, GiveDirectly Kenya and SHOFCO, that are dedicated to the same cause. Learnings from this work show the need for more tailored learning solutions for women, creation of mentorship programs targeting women and acceleration of women-led networks.

Equity is at the core of what we do at Google, be it our products or programs. This new Impact Challenge will build on that work.

If you’re working on an innovative project that supports women and girls, or have a bold idea that will transform economic opportunities for women and girls, then check out g.co/womenandgirlschallenge to apply and learn more about the Challenge. Organizations have until Friday, April 9 to submit ideas, and grant recipients will be announced later this year.

Posted by Liza Belozerova,  Google.org Program Manager, Europe, Middle East & Africa
&  Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde,  Head of B&R Sub Saharan Africa