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Google pledges $25 million to empower women and girls

Commits grants to NGOs addressing economic inequities faced by women as its next Impact Challenge.

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NEW DELHI: In a blog post timed for International Women’s Day, Google has put out a call for applications for charitable initiatives focusing on anything from “barriers to economic equality” to “cultivating entrepreneurship.” The tech giant announced a range of programs as well as grants worth $25 million to fund works of non-profits and social enterprises that are committed to empower women and girls.

“Women and men remain on unequal footing — and these inequalities have worsened in the wake of Covid2019,” Google.org president Jacquelline Fuller said in the post. Fuller cited a statistic showing that women in the US alone have lost more than 5.4 million jobs in 2020, according to the National Women’s Law Center.  Since the coronavirus pandemic started, other organisations have also sounded the alarm about what women stand to lose. A September report from McKinsey & Company warned that the pandemic could undo six years’ worth of progress for women in the workplace.  

Google.org's new Impact Challenge, unveiled on International Women's Day, is aimed at addressing systemic barriers and inequities so that women have access to economic equality, opportunity to build financial independence and pursue entrepreneurism, said Google chief executive Sundar Pichai at a virtual event.

Applicants will be reviewed by a panel including US Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, Google chief diversity officer Melonie Parker and musician Shakira, among others. Amongst them, applicants that meet the criteria of impact, innovation, scalability and feasibility will be selected and receive funding between $300,000 and $2 million in funding. Each selected organisation will also receive non-monetary support like mentorship from Google.

The deadline to apply is April 9, and the selected organizations will be announced in late 2021. 

"Whatever these teams need, we are going to be alongside them and help carry out their vision," said Fuller at the event. She also announced that Google.org is going to invest an additional $1 million to help underserved women in India. Even as India is the world’s second largest internet market, women make up a small percentage of online users in the country. 

Five years ago, Google launched a digital literacy program called Internet Saathi to bring internet literacy to women in rural parts of India. The company said the program, for which it collaborated with Indian conglomerate Tata, significantly helped improve women’s participation on Indian internet.

Four of 10 internet users in rural India are now women, said Google, up from one in 10 in 2015. The company, citing its own research, said the Internet Saathi program benefited more than 30 million women in India — and that it’s now concluding the program to focus on other efforts to continue this mission.

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