BusinessDay

Google pledges $25m to advance girls, women empowerment in Africa

Nonprofits and social enterprises creating pathways to prosperity for women and girls in Africa can apply to get part of a $25 million grant by Google, announced today in celebration of the International Women’s Day. With women noted to be bearing disproportional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through job losses, and millions of girls not likely to return to school, the initiative will seek to even out some of the odds stacked against women and girls across the continent.

Grantees, to be announced later this year, are eligible to receive funding ranging from $300,000 to $2 million. Selected organisations will also receive capacity building support and mentoring from Googlers.

The open call for applications is from the company’s new Global Impact Challenge (GIC) for Women and Girls, said in a statement to be reinforcing the organisation’s commitment to the empowerment of women and girls on the African continent. It follows initiatives like the 2019 Africa launch of Women Will, Google’s initiative to create opportunities for women, and Google’s #IamRemarkable workshop series, which works to counteract conditioning that women shouldn’t celebrate their achievements.

Empowering women and girls in Africa to reach their full economic potential, and to thrive, is more critical now than ever before as they bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Juliet Ehimuan, country director, Google Nigeria, quoting the Foresight Africa report 2021. It confirms that the coronavirus has “exacerbated already-existing gender inequalities, laying bare serious fault lines in safety, physical and mental health, education, domestic responsibilities, and employment opportunities”.

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“Despite decades of work aimed at achieving gender equality, the disparity between men and women not only remains – it is growing alarmingly, largely thanks to the global pandemic,” the report warns

The (GIC) for Women and Girls is focused on changing the status quo, with Ehimuan stressing that job cuts, income losses and lack of education aren’t simply side-effects of the pandemic, but “will negatively impact the economic strides made by women and girls for many years to come.”

In a virtual event hosted to celebrate IWD 2021 and make the announcements, Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, head, Brand & Reputation, Google Africa noted that following the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of women have lost jobs and livelihoods.

“It is estimated for 2021 that 49 million women and girls will be pushed into extreme poverty, bringing the total to 435 million,” she said. “According to a report by McKinsey and Co, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to the current crises then men’s job. While women make up 39 percent of the global employment, they account for 54 percent of overall job losses.”

Organisations have until Friday, April 2, 2021 at 11:59 pm GMT to submit their applications at g.co/womenandgirlschallenge. An all-female panel of expert Google executives and world/business leaders, including Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Victoria Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on SDGs; Graça Machel, Founder, Graça Machel Trust; and Juliana Rotich, Kenyan information technology entrepreneur, will preside over the application review and selection process once applications close.

“When women and girls have the tools, resources and opportunities to turn their potential into power, it not only changes the trajectory of their individual lives, but also strengthens entire communities. If we lift up women and girls, the rest of the world will rise, too,” Ehimuan said.

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