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
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Government PROs should work as ambassadors: Theofelus

KATIMA MULILO: Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Emma Theofelus has called on all communication and public relations officers of public entities to become ambassadors not only in their institutions, but outside as well.

The minister was speaking at the official opening of the first annual public entities communication and public relations conference at Katima Mulilo on Tuesday.

The ICT minister noted that gatherings of this nature allow the communicators to reflect and see how they can better their skills.

‘You are the face and brand of the institutions that you are coming from. Learn from each other. Let’s look at the guiding documents, especially regarding professionalism and ethics, so we give exceptional service,’ Theofelus stated.

She further urged the communicators to be proactive and effective in their communications, encouraging them to keep an eye on new and emerging trends of communication.

‘We want you to be the ambassadors of Namibia, because someone across the world could
look at the Oshikoto Regional Council page and see Namibia, so we should be ambassadors beyond our institution, over the entire country. As a ministry, we have the Nationhood campaign, as you communicate on behalf of your institution, you’re able to bring pride to the nation,’ Theofelus emphasised.

She further reminded the communicators and managers in public service to always collaborate and communicate Government business accordingly.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency

Botswana celebrates Geingob’s life

OSHAKATI: Botswana President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, said that the late President Hage Geingob significantly contributed to the excellent relations between Namibia and Botswana.

Masisi made the remarks during a memorial service held for the late President Geingob in Gaborone, Botswana on Wednesday.

In a live broadcast by Botswana Television (BTV), Masisi highlighted the longstanding nature of this relationship, recalling that before Namibia gained independence in 1990, Botswana provided refuge and safe passage to Namibians fleeing oppression and persecution from white minority settler regimes.

‘We are humbled that such an enduring legacy of sustained democratic ideals and a climate of peace gave the necessary assurance to our neighbours who fled atrocities from East, West, North, and South, to finally settle in Botswana, or opted to use Botswana as a reliable conduit to Lusaka, to Arusha, and Dar es Salaam,’ he said.

Masisi then described the late Geingob as a towering figure, a leading statesman both in stat
ure and accomplishments, who however bowed himself lowly and dressed himself with unmistaken humility.

He noted that Geingob was never in a hurry to outpace some of them who came well after him and needed to lean on him, learn from him, and mimic his well-orchestrated craft of steering the presidency, not to mention his nimble dancing skills, particularly on the campaign trail.

Meanwhile, President Nangolo Mbumba, at the same ceremony, indicated that the bond between Masisi and the late Geingob transcended governance.

He highlighted that Masisi was the first Head of State to visit President Geingob last year following an operation he had, and also the first to travel to Namibia after news of the late president’s death broke to support the bereaved family.

President Geingob, who died at the age of 82 in Windhoek, was buried at Heroes’ Arce on 25 February 2024.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency

Mbumba to deliver SONA on Thursday

KEETMANSHOOP: President Nangolo Mbumba is expected to deliver the 2024 State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the National Assembly (NA) on Thursday.

A statement issued by the NA on Wednesday indicated that the SONA is delivered during the committee stage of debates on the annual Appropriation Bill in the NA.

According to the statement, the address is in accordance with Article 32 (2) of the Namibian Constitution that states that, ‘In accordance with the responsibility of the executive branch of Government to the legislative branch, the President and the Cabinet shall each year during the consideration of the official budget attend Parliament. During such session the President shall address Parliament on the state of the nation and on the future policies of the Government; shall report on the policies of the previous year and shall be available to respond to questions.’

This is the first time President Mbumba delivers the State of the Nation Address, which was initially going to be the last SONA of the late
President Hage Geingob. Mbumba was sworn in as President on 04 February 2024, following Geingob’s passing on the same day.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency

Ministry of Agriculture dispatches spray teams to Zambezi

KATIMA MULILO: The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform on Wednesday dispatched extension officials to some parts of the Zambezi Region’s river field areas, following an outbreak of African migratory red locusts.

According to the ministry’s spokesperson, Jona Musheko, in an interview with Nampa, the locusts were detected at Lake Liambezi and old Masokotwani, destroying maize crops, with about 10 hectares destroyed last week.

He said the locusts were also detected in the Ohangwena Region, on 29 February 2024.

Farmers in the surrounding areas of the Kapani, Kanono, Linyanti, Nakabolelwa, Masikili, Ngoma, Isuswa, Loma, Mutikitila, Ibbu, Mahundu, Ngala, Kapani, Chinchimani, Singobeka, Maunga, Sangwali and Oshikunde village have been warned to be on the lookout for locusts and to report any sightings to the constituency offices.

Musheko said four teams consisting of extension officers were dispatched on Wednesday to intensify surveillance and spray the affected areas.

‘In most of the areas where the
locusts were reported, they are still in the hopping stage, which is easy to control, which is why we are in a hurry so we can start spraying because it becomes very challenging when they start flying and they can spread to other reshoots not presently affected,’ Musheko said.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency

OPM turns to technology to curb delays in assisting communities

GOBABIS: Executive Director (ED) in the Office of the Prime Minister, I-Ben Nashandi on Wednesday said the government is making use of technology to accelerate their assignments, including the delivery of drought relief food to affected communities.

Nashandi made the remarks at a three-day annual plan development workshop for the 2024-2025 fiscal year, taking place at Gobabis in the Omaheke Region.

The ED said the use of technology would improve the delivery of food assistance under the drought relief programme, adding that his office has observed that the logistics of extending services at times leads to delays.

‘We want to make sure that we undertake assessments because the rain this year is a bit challenging. Since last year there have been predictions that we will be having an El Niño phenomena that will have an impact on our food production and food security in particular,’ he said.

The grass condition in most parts of the country has not improved and this has necessitated his office to assess the si
tuation before the current drought relief programme ending in March lapses, he said.

Nashandi said his office has thus put concrete interventions in place to assist the most vulnerable communities.

‘Key to assisting is the timely delivery of that assistance, and that is what we are planning to do. Among other things, we are also going to review our administrative operational procedures and ensure effective coordination between offices in ministries and agencies and making sure that correct information reaches people appropriately,’ he expressed.

The ED also said his office has urged farmers to de-stock as early as possible while their livestock are in good condition, saying that it will become very challenging to sustain the animals throughout the drought.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency

Service station robbers take off with almost N.dollars 800 000

WINDHOEK: The Namibian Police in the Khomas Region are investigating a case of robbery with aggravating circumstances, after suspected robbers stole N.dollars 789 707 from the Monte Christo service station in Windhoek on Tuesday.

According to police spokesperson Chief Inspector Elifas Kuwinga, three suspects entered the service station and pointed a firearm at the cashiers before proceeding to enter the manager’s office and grabbing three cash boxes. The boxes, he said, were prepared for pick up by the G4S security company, for banking purposes.

‘The suspects got into a blue Mazda Demio vehicle and sped off with the cash in the amount of N.dollars 789 707. The fourth suspect is the driver who remained in the car,’ Kuwinga said.

No arrests have been made yet as the suspects are unknown. Investigations into the matter are ongoing and no recoveries are made.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency

Outapi mayor raises concern over theft of manhole covers

OUTAPI: Outapi Mayor, Selma Asino-Shaumbako, has expressed dismay over the theft of the town council’s sewer manhole covers by unknown individuals.

In an interview with Nampa on Wednesday, Asino-Shaumbako expressed concern about the theft, not only because it is stolen property but also because open sanitary manholes pose a serious danger to the town’s inhabitants.

‘As a council, we are dealing with an issue where thieves have taken the sewer covers, which now poses a danger to our people,’ she said.

The mayor pleaded with residents to refrain from such actions, since they cause the town’s development to be delayed and funds meant for future development in the town to be diverted.

According to Asino-Shaumbako, the matter was reported to the police and is under investigation.

Moreover, she indicated that the council is busy replacing the covers and urged residents to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activities, either at the Outapi Police Station or the council office.

Source: The Namibia Pr
ess Agency

Minor dies after hit-and-run accident

ONIIPA: The Namibian Police Force in the Oshikoto Region opened a case of culpable homicide against a driver of a white light truck that drove over and killed a seven-year-old boy.

According to the region’s crime investigations coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Titus Ekandjo on Wednesday, the incident occurred around 15h00 on Tuesday at Onamulunga village on the B1 road between Onethindi and Iihwali village in the Oniipa Constituency.

The deceased was identified as Hiskiel Davids from Onamulunga village and a case of culpable homicide read with failing to stop after causing an accident has been opened against the suspect.

‘It is alleged that the suspect of a white light truck motor vehicle with an unidentified private registration number and a black loading box hit a pedestrian, who is a school learner, who was crossing the road from school,’ said Ekandjo.

He added that the suspect failed to stop after causing the accident. The truck was allegedly headed from the direction of Omuthiya towards Onethindi.

he victim was rushed to Onandjokwe State Hospital but succumbed to serious head injuries upon arrival at the hospital.

An autopsy will be conducted and the next of kin are informed.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency