IWD: Google.org Pledges $25m for Women, Girls Empowerment

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By Emma Okonji

As the world celebrated International Women’s Day on Monday, to recognise and empower women and the girl child, Google.org has pledged a whopping $25 million as grant funding for women and girls in Africa.

Google.org, which is the philanthropic arm of Google, has therefore challenged African women and girls to turn their passion into action by taking part in the grant funding.

The challenge invites applications for cash grants from non-profit organisations dedicated to the economic empowerment of women and girls in Africa.

Google.org’s open call on IWD for applications for grant funding from its new Global Impact Challenge (GIC) for women and girls, reinforces the organisation’s commitment to the empowerment of women and girls on the African continent.

The GIC for women and girls, which will provide $25 million in overall cash grants to non-profits and social enterprises creating pathways to prosperity for women and girls, 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.
Organisations have until Friday, April 2 to submit their applications.

Quoting the Foresight Africa report 2021, the Country Director, Google Nigeria, Juliet Ehimuan, said empowering women and girls in Africa to reach their full economic potential, and to thrive, would be more critical now than ever before as they bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Foresight Africa report 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.”

The report, however, warned that despite decades of work aimed at achieving gender equality, the disparity between men and women not only remains, but is growing alarmingly, largely thanks to the global pandemic.

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 are not simply side-effects of the pandemic, but “will negatively impact the economic strides made by women and girls for many years to come.”

“As economies and societies rebuild, we need bold new ideas that will propel us forward. We can’t afford to go back to the way things were, and we certainly can’t do it alone,” Ehimuan said.

During the IWD celebration, which was organised online by Google, African women were advised to bridge the existing gender gap by becoming innovative, using technology. They were also advised to get the right education that would make them confident enough to believe in themselves.

An all-female panel of expert Google executives and world/business leaders, including the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on SDGs, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Founder, Graça Machel Trust, Graça Machel and Kenyan information technology entrepreneur, Juliana Rotich, will preside over the application review and selection process once applications close.

Grantees, who will 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.
Over the past five years, Google.org has given over $55 million in cash grants to non-profit organisations that support gender equity and access to opportunity for women and girls around the world.

“We have a collective responsibility to ensure that generations of women and girls from all walks of life—no matter their race, sexual orientation, religion or socioeconomic status—live in a world where they are treated equally and can realise their full potential.

“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 further said.