Intel Corporation held a celebration event on the 22nd October at Tamarind Tree Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. We celebrated our goal of reaching 5 million women through the Intel She Will Connect Program. The guests were treated to an array of traditional songs and dances from Africa as well as inspiring success stories from program beneficiaries.
We were hosted by key personnel from Intel Corporation, Ferruh Gurtas, Innovation Programs and Partnerships Director – Europe, Middle East, Africa, Suraj Shah, Africa Program Director and Mark Mutunga, Corporate Affairs Group Manager
The guests included representatives from program partners UNWomen, USAID, African Centre for Women & ICT (ACWICT), Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), Joyful Women Organization (Joywo), Blessed Ladies, Institute of Electronics & Engineering & Electronics (IEEE), Global Peace Foundation and Youth Banner.
How Intel She Will Connect started
Intel She Will Connect Program, was launched in Africa as part of Intel’s CSR commitment to drive improvements in environmental sustainability, supply chain responsibility, diversity and inclusion, and social impact.
In 2012, Intel published the Women and the Web report which highlighted the gender gap in internet access in developing countries. Through the research, which covered 2,200 women across four countries, the team realized that the lack of awareness of the benefits of internet use, combined with the lack of comfort with the technology, were important barriers preventing women from accessing the internet. According to the report, nearly 25% fewer women than men are online in developing countries. This represents 200 million fewer women than men online today in Sub-Saharan Africa, the size of the gap is 43%— the largest across all the regions in the study.
Intel launched the Intel® She Will Connect program in 2014 with the goal to reduce the gender gap on internet use around the world by addressing women’s lack of awareness and skills. The program began in Sub-Saharan Africa where the gender internet gap was the greatest. The countries identified for the pilot program were Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. The goal was to reach five million young women in the region by 2020.
By working with local partners, the program was able to deliver on this ambitious goal 5 million reached by 2020. This was done by creating opportunities for women on the ground and focusing on homegrown solutions that were relevant and impactful.
The appointment of local Ambassadors in Kenya and Nigeria also helped to drive awareness campaigns through social media and radio by telling real stories of women who had been impacted by the program.
The program was delivered through face to face training in the community centers of our partners, mobile PC labs/Caravans and the Kio kit (a fully integrated education platform with 40 Kio tablets, storage and internet) to be able to access to women especially in the rural areas.
Impact of the Program
Speaking at the event, Intel’s Ferruh Gurtas commended the support and effort of the global and local partners over the past 5 years that led to reaching of 5.4 million, surpassing the initial 5M goal.
“With over 230,000 women trained across Africa, jobs and business opportunities were created for over 400 women, said Ferruh
Success Stories Featured during the Event
Joywo that started with table banking have now started to make use of technology to give small loans to women in groups. Joywo was effective in getting women to overcome their mistrust of the technology especially when it comes to financial services by training and leveraging their members to use technology for financial services including savings and loan services. Beneficiaries have since started businesses, educated their children and so much more as a result of the program.
Linnet, a beneficiary from ACWICT, learnt online work and started a business that currently employs 2 people. She was also able to set up an online shop where she uses Facebook and WhatsApp to market her products.
In partnership with UNEP, tea farmers in Muranga were trained on technology as well as how to use technology to access relevant content through caravans and toolkits. For most of these women, it was their first interaction with technology.
“It’s not just about technology, it’s about what technology can help you achieve. That’s the impact we’re talking about,” remarked Dr. Mark Matunga.
“This program has two heroes, said Suraj Shah, Africa Program Director, “The women who were impacted and the people who had their eyes and ears on the ground.”
Receiving awards were representatives from all partner organizations including Ms. Wamuyu Mahinda of Youth Banner, Constantine Obuya of ACWICT, JOYWO representative and Zebib Kavuma, Country Director – Kenya, UNWomen.
Youth Banner were recognized for their role in research, providing data, tests and trials to ensure that the program would enhance the lives of women on ground. “Women want the soft skills to be able to earn more as they work online.” Ms. Wamuyu Mahinda.
Joyful Women Organization
JOYWO were recognized for their work in taking ICT to women in rural areas where they held face to face training through mobile caravans and BRK. 200,000+ women joined the training to improve their lives.
Grateful for the opportunity of partnering with Intel on this journey, Ms. Constantine Obuya, Executive Director – ACWICT reiterated that together they were able to take the program to West Pokot where they were able to reach women from very disadvantaged backgrounds. “We found ways of traversing the political unrest in Kibera and train women in Kibera. The caravan and toolkit provided by Intel has allowed us reach very remote areas and the nature of our work cannot allow us to end here. The work must continue!” Said Ms Constantine.
“Intel made their decision based on being informed, making a bold vision of 5m as a target and the way you chose the countries to implement the program in. These are hubs where you can really make a dent. Said Ms. Kavuma, director for UNWomen. “In line with the SDGs – leave no one behind, it is great that we are celebrating your boldness, deliberateness & informedness. You have helped us as UNWomen get closer to our target,” She said.
She added that the localization of the process was critical in understanding the issues on the ground and urged Governments to take initiative in this process. “Governments need to be held accountable to the resources and policies they are putting in place with regard to security of women online especially with the rampant cyber bullying,” she said
Each speaker at the Intel She Will Connect celebration concluded by celebrating every woman who was impacted and urged all partners everyone to continue with the good work.
Every individual has a role to play when it comes to reducing the digital gender gap; bridging the digital divide, changing stereotypes about women in the tech industries and equipping women with the skills they will need to thrive in today’s economy to transform women’s narratives and their way of life.
The Internet is a great enabler, creating unprecedented opportunities for women to enter global markets. establish an international, level-playing field, compete on an equal footing in global markets. Each of us have a part to play a part in closing the gender divide, overturning stereotypes and encouraging women and girls to use ICTs and pursue careers in the technology sector.
There are now 5.4 million women more who have been impacted, 230,000 women more who have been trained and 400 more women who have gained meaningful employment as a result of the Intel She Will Connect Program.
We think that deserves a worldwide celebration. Don’t you?