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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Arab Tango: new creation by Mohamed Ali Kammoun on first tour of Tunisia

“The Arab Tango” is the latest musical creation by Tunisian pianist, arranger and composer Mohamed Ali Kammoun (known as Daly Kammoun).

The genesis of this project stems from a meeting with the Lebanese singer Ghassan Yammine. The premiere of this spectacle is scheduled for the end of March 2024, followed by a tour of Tunisia.

The event is supported by the Institut Français de Tunisie (IFT) and will feature two prominent French artists from the Paris jazz scene.

The first performance will take place in Sfax on Saturday March 24, followed by another in Tunis on March 26 at the IFT, and a third on March 27 at the Sousse Municipal Theatre.

The performance lasts 75 minutes, divided into three sections: instrumental compositions by the musician Mohamed Ali Kamoun (20 minutes), famous Maghreb standard songs (30 minutes) and famous Mashreq standard songs (30 minutes).

All arranged with an ethos of fusion between East and West, where the ingenuity of the composition and the splendour of the interpretation promis
e to transcend stylistic boundaries, especially those of Argentinean tango.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Climate change in Burkina Faso: Local governments are training on climate financeFamily Ministry and UNICEF to equip 20 inclusive public kindergartens in Tunisia’s remote areas

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in collaboration with the Green Climate Fund, trained from March 11 to 12, 2024 in Bobo-Dioulasso, local governments on information climate change and climate finance. This training aims to strengthen the knowledge and skills of participants in the fight against climate change.

Local governments, namely members of regional and municipal councils in the Hauts-Bassins region, have been trained on the issues of climate change and on the policies and mechanisms put in place to mobilize the financing necessary for this purpose.

Twenty-five in number, they came from different localities in the region for this session.

This training opportunity was offered to them by the IUCN through its preparatory project, ‘Strengthening the technical and operational capacities of the AND (Designated National Authority) and its network to provide strategic support to stakeholders in Green Fund activities for the climate in Burkina Faso’ .

This project is supported by th
e Green Climate Fund. It aims to strengthen the capacities and technical and operational skills of the executive secretariat of the AND in Burkina Faso and its network so that they can provide effective support for the development and implementation of adaptation actions. and climate change mitigation in Burkina Faso.

As part of the implementation of the said program, it is planned to organize thirteen awareness sessions in the thirteen regions of Burkina Faso on climate information in 2024 in order to strengthen the knowledge of these actors on adaptation efforts to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation .

It is with this in mind that those in the Hauts-Bassins region were trained for two days on current events and projections on climate change in Burkina Faso or on generalities on climate finance.

The chief of staff of the Hauts-Bassins Regional Council, Yaya Sanou, praised the holding of the session because it was an opportunity to discuss innovative solutions to meet the challenges of c
limate change in the region.

The project manager at IUCN in Burkina Faso, Bassourou Boyla, agreed.

For him, it is with the combination of all efforts that we will succeed in building a more sustainable and resilient future for Burkina Faso and the entire planet, hence the initiative of the session.

‘The overall objective of this session is to strengthen the knowledge of stakeholders in the Hauts-Bassins region on efforts to adapt to climate change and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Through this initiative, we aim to reduce the information gaps between central and local administrations as well as between scientists and local communities on climate actions in our country,’ underlined M Boyla.

This training, added the designated national authority of the green climate fund, Nebyida Kaboré, is welcome.

It made it possible to give the basics to those closest to the populations to formulate climate-related projects in order to have access to financing from the Green Climate Fund.

Source: Burkina Informat
ion Agency

The Ministry of Family, Women, Children and Seniors and the United Nations Children’s Organization (UNICEF) – Tunis Office, agreed, on Wednesday, to provide equipment to 20 inclusive public kindergartens during a meeting held between Family Minister Amel Belhaj Moussa and UNICEF Representative in Tunisia Michel Le Pechoux.

This initiative is part of the programme implemented by the Family Ministry to increase the number of inclusive public kindergartens in remote regions and consolidate preschool education in Tunisia, reads a statement of the ministry.

The two officials discussed ways to boost bilateral cooperation in the areas of early childhood and threatened childhood, promote programmes of inclusive public kindergartens as well as provide psychological counseling to children and their families through the toll-free number 1809.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Working session agrees to develop single guide for communitarian enterprises

A unified guide for setting up communitarian companies will be drawn up, it was agreed at a working session chaired by Riadh Chaouad, Secretary of State for Communitarian Enterprises on Wednesday.

The meeting, which was attended by representatives of several ministries, public bodies and partner financial institutions (Tunisian Solidarity Bank and BH Bank), provided an opportunity to present the first version of the guide drawn up by the Ministry of Employment.

The participants agreed on the need to draw up a simplified guide covering the stages involved in setting up communitarian enterprises, financing mechanisms, activities requiring permits and specifications, the feasibility study, the main incentives depending on the activity, the management of state land for agricultural purposes, and support and guidance structures.

The meeting emphasised the need to carry out a personalised diagnosis of each communitarian enterprise registered in the National Register of Enterprises in order to ensure its long-ter
m survival, according to a ministry statement.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Monitoring progress on partnership programmes between Ministry of Employment and AFD

Monitoring the implementation of partnership programmes in the field of employment and vocational training took centre stage at a meeting held on Tuesday between Employment and Vocational Training Minister Lotfi Dhieb and a delegation from the French Development Agency (AFD).

The meeting focused on monitoring the progress of partnership programmes with AFD, such as the “New Chance” project, the Support Programme for Professional Training and Integration (PAFIP) and the ACJEMP project (Accompagnement et Coaching des Jeunes et renforcement de leur Employabilité), according to a ministry press release on Wednesday.

The minister underlined the need to speed up the implementation of these projects and programmes, to meet deadlines and to overcome all difficulties, underlining the importance of the “New Chance” project, which targets young people aged between 18 and 30, without diplomas or qualifications, in the governorates of Kairouan and Sousse, and aims to help them return to work.

AFD Director for Tunisia Y
azid Safir commended the level and quality of cooperation with the ministry, reaffirming the agency’s willingness to provide further support for the department’s work programme and strategic orientations.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Fasting recommended for older people with no chronic illnesses (geriatrician)

Contrary to popular belief, fasting is recommended for older people who do not suffer from chronic diseases,” said geriatric specialist Afef Hammami on Wednesday.

Fasting improves the health of the heart and blood vessels in older people, lowers blood sugar and fat levels and thus helps prevent cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and atherosclerosis, she told TAP.

Fasting helps the elderly boost their immunity by producing more antibodies that protect against infection and disease, improves digestive system function and eliminates toxins from the body, she pointed out, adding that the liver contributes to the production of sugar in the body and produces more energy.

Afef Hammami underlined that fasting also helps improve memory, concentration, brain health and sleep quality.

However, the specialist called on older people suffering from chronic diseases to consult their GPs, pointing out the need to adopt a diet rich in fibre, vegetables and proteins, and to drink enough water.

Source: Agence Tunis Afr
ique Presse

Number of teams providing social and health services to older people at home up

The number of mobile teams providing social and health services to older people at home upped from 25 in February 2023 to 40 in February 2024, according to a press release issued on Wednesday by the Ministry for Family, Women, Children and the Elderly.

The mobile teams are divided into 15 regional teams and 25 local teams across the Republic’s various governorates and densely populated regions, the ministry explained.

A total of 4,000 people (1,660 women and 2,340 men) are benefiting from these mobile teams’ services.

The ministry is endeavouring, according to the same source, to set up 18 teams in priority and densely populated regions in order to reach 58 teams by the end of 2024, pointing out that the funds earmarked for these teams have risen from TND 750,000 in 2023 to TND 1,102,000 in 2024.

The programme for the protection of older people at home aims to ensure that older people remain in their family and natural environment in order to preserve their mental balance and foster family ties and a sens
e of responsibility within the family.

Social and health services for the elderly at home are provided by medical and paramedical staff, social workers and care assistants.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Kef elections: Abderraouf Kelai to represent region on First District Council

Abderraouf Kelai, a member of the Kef Regional Council, on Wednesday, won the region’s seat on the First District Council, which covers the governorates of Bizerte, Béja, Jendouba and Kef.

Having received the same number of votes (4) as his rival Abdelkader Laabidi, Abderraouf Kelai was declared the winner on the basis of age (oldest).

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Ben Arous election: Oumina Harbaoui elected member of council of second district

The election of the representative of the Regional Council of Ben Arous for the Council of the Second District, which includes the governorates of Tunis, Ariana, Manouba, Nabeul, Zaghouan and Ben Arous took place on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Independent Regional Authority for Elections (IRIE) in Ben Arous.

Candidate Oumina Harbaoui won the election with 6 votes out of a total of 11.

Rachid Mhamdi, president of the IRIE in Ben Arous, told TAP that the electoral process had been successfully completed.

The vote took place in the presence of the president and members of the Ben Arous IRIE, as well as representatives of the media.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Ariana Elections: Selma Manai elected to council of second district

Selma Manai was elected as the representative of the Ariana governorate in the second district council, which includes the governorates of Tunis, Ariana, Manouba, Ben Arous, Nabeul and Zaghouan.

A member of the Ariana regional council, Manai (41, teacher) was the only candidate in the race for a seat in the council of the second district.

The Ariana Regional Council has seven members: Saida Chekir (Ariana-ville local council), Belgacem Yaccoubi (Mnihla), Khouloud Nejaimi (Ettadhamen), Selma Manai (Raoued), Safouen Rouis (Soukra), Khaoula Yousfi (Sidi Thabet) and Riadh Dridi (Kalaat Andalous).

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Libyan authorities prevent several Tunisian traders and labourers from crossing into Libya (head of OTDH)

A number of Tunisian traders and workers are having difficulties entering Libyan territory to work, as Libyan authorities have been preventing them from doing so at the Ras Jedir border crossing on the Libyan side for the past two days, despite the fact that they have complied with all the legal procedures for departure and their safety, said Mustapha Abdelkebir, head of the Tunisian Observatory for Human Rights (OTDH).

The Observatory condemned the ban and the resumption of taxes on travellers by the Libyan authorities, calling for a review of these decisions, which it described as unilateral, and the need to insist on the implementation of joint Tunisian-Libyan agreements and the principle of reciprocity.

Abdelkebir called on the Tunisian authorities to take steps to find solutions to these problems and for the Joint Security Committees to meet urgently and intervene in favour of Tunisians travelling to Libya and to find urgent solutions for them and for all the problems of the crossing, including artific
ial overcrowding. He said that the rights of travellers, especially freedom of movement, should not be compromised.

He added that the number of people who have been stopped in the last two days exceeds dozens, despite the absence of any legal procedure to stop them on the grounds that they are undesirable.

According to a security source, the Libyan authorities have begun to implement new procedures without providing further clarifications.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Kasserine: Insaf Bkairi elected regional representative in council of third district

Insaf Bkairi, a member of the Kasserine Regional Council, has been elected to represent the region on the council of the third district, which includes the governorates of Siliana, Sousse, Kasserine, Kairouan, Monastir and Mahdia.

The vote took place on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Independent Regional Authority for Elections (IRIE) in Kasserine, in the presence of all 13 members of the Kasserine governorate regional council, IRIE representatives and the media.

The candidate, Insaf Bkairi, is 28 years old, disabled and has a degree in financial management. She received 7 votes, while her rival, Kamel Ghozleni, received only 6 votes.

Bkairi told TAP that she was committed to defending the region’s right to full development.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Tunisia, France discuss cooperation in higher education field

Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister Moncef Boukthir and France’s Ambassador in Tunis Anne Guéguen had a meeting on Tuesday during which they pointed to the need to foster cooperation between both countries in the higher education field.

The main joint projects in the higher education field were also discussed, reads a ministry press release.

The two officials commended in this regard, the level of Tunisian-French cooperation in scientific research field, which is characterised by numerous academic activities at the bilateral and multi-partite levels.

Preparations for the High-Level Cooperation Council between Tunisia and France, due to be held this year in Paris, were also reviewed.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

New medical equipment for dialysis patients at Menzel Bourguiba local hospital

The Health Ministry on Tuesday took delivery of a batch of new medical equipment for dialysis patients at the Menzel Bourguiba local hospital in the Bizerte governorate.

This batch is part of a cooperation project between Tunisia and the World Bank (WB).

Speaking at the ceremony to hand over the equipment in the presence of WB Resident Representative in Tunisia Alexandre Arrobbio, Health Minister Ali Mrabet underlined that the fight against chronic diseases is a priority for his department, emphasising the need to ensure as far as possible that quality therapeutic services are provided and that patients suffering from chronic renal failure are offered the necessary support.

He further underscored the importance of the cooperation programme with the World Bank, which, he said, has helped speed up the acquisition of modern medical equipment and appliances that will certainly boost the capacity of public dialysis centres and units.

The WB representative reaffirmed his institution’s commitment to further expa
nd its cooperation and partnership with the Health Ministry, while working to diversify its intervention fields.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Gabes regional council member Mohamed Kdiri elected to fifth district council

Gabes Regional Council member Mohamed El Kdiri has been elected to represent the governorate in the Fifth District Council, which includes the governorates of Kebili, Gabes, Medenine and Tataouine.

The thirteen members of the Gabes Regional Council voted for Mohamed Kdiri, who was the only candidate to stand for the post.

The election took place on Wednesday at the headquarters of the local Independent Electoral Commission (IRIE) in Gabes.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse