The Transformative Power of Education and Technology for Girls and Women
By: Suzanne Fallender, Director, Global Girls and Women Initiative, Intel Corporation
People often ask – why is a global technology company investing in empowering girls’ and women? As Shelly Esque, our Vice President of Corporate Affairs has often said – “the better question is: why isn’t everyone investing in girls and women?”
The answer for Intel, and many other companies, governments, and foundations is that there is an incredible opportunity in front of us to close the gender gaps that exist today in education, technology access, and financial resources in order to drive dramatic improvements in social and economic indicators. Today, according to UNESCO, approximately 66 million girls are not in school. But yet, when 10% more girls go to school, a country’s GDP can rise by 3%. According to the Women and the Web report which Intel released last year with our partners including Dalberg, UN Women, and World Pulse, nearly 25% fewer women are online than men in developing countries, with the gap at nearly 45% in sub-Saharan Africa. But the report shows that closing the Internet gap would contribute an estimated USD 13 to USD 18 billion to annual GDP across 144 developing countries.
Like the Global Business Coalition for Education, Intel believes that education is a fundamental right for everyone, as it provides the foundation for a successful future and breaks the cycle of generational poverty. Over the past decade, Intel and the Intel Foundation have invested $1 billion in improving education opportunities for girls and boys around the world. But in the past few years, we have deepened our investments in programs and partnerships that seek to accelerate progress toward closing the gender gap to deepen the social impact of our investments. Closing the gender gaps that exist today in education and technology also has important long-term impacts for our business, as it further expands our talent pipeline and creates educated consumers in new markets required for our long term success. Intel’s corporate vision is to create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person on Earth. We cannot achieve this vision without reaching the millions of girls and women who are disproportionally left on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Intel’s Global Girls and Women Initiative focuses action in three main areas: closing the education gap for girls, inspiring more girls and women to become creators of technology through STEM education programs, and connecting girls and women to new opportunities through technology access and digital literacy skills, including our new Intel® She Will Connect program.
One of first steps we took in our efforts to help close the gender education gap was to focus on raising awareness by using the power of storytelling and media in order to bring as many resources to bear on the issue. Intel became a strategic founding partner of the Girl Rising film and social action campaign, which since its theatrical launch last International Women’s Day, has reached millions of people around the world, including many policymakers, and has generated millions of dollars in donations to support girls’ education. One year later, Intel and Girl Rising are celebrating International Women’s Day with the launch of DVD and online version the Girl Rising film to further extend the reach and impact of the campaign globally to scale action and investment.
Closing the gaps that girls and women face and opening up new economic opportunity will require a range of solutions from the public and private sector working together. Education and technology are two of the most powerful investments we can make.
Photo © Intel Corporation
Suzanne Fallender is currently Director of Intel’s Global Girls and Women Initiative, which includes a set of strategic programs, partnerships, and policy engagements designed to empower millions of girls and women around the world through education and technology. This includes Intel’s partnership on the Girl Rising campaign which advocates for investing in girls’ education, programs to inspire more girls and women to pursue technology and engineering careers, and the Intel® She Will Connect program which aims to close the internet gender gap in developing countries.