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Tech giant, Google, has pledged $25 million from its new global Impact Challenge (GIC) towards the empowerment of women and girls in Africa.

The GIC for Women and Girls, which will provide $25 million in overall cash grants to nonprofits and social enterprises creating pathways to prosperity for women and girls.

Google which announced the decision in statement on Monday, said it followed 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.

”Empowering women and girls in Africa to reach their full economic potential, and to thrive, is more critical now than ever before as they bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Juliet Ehimuan, country director, Google Nigeria, quoting the Foresight Africa report 2021.

It 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”.

”Despite decades of work aimed at achieving gender equality, the disparity between men and women not only remains – it is growing alarmingly, largely thanks to the global pandemic,” the report warns

The (GIC) for Women and Girls is focused on changing the status quo, with Ms Ehimuan stressing that job cuts, income losses, and lack of education aren’t 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.”

Organisations have until April 2, to submit their applications at g.co/womenandgirlschallenge. An all-female panel of expert Google executives and world/business leaders, including Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Victoria Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on SDGs; Graça Machel, Founder, Graça Machel Trust; and Juliana Rotich, Kenyan information technology entrepreneur, will preside over the application review and selection process once applications close.

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 opportunities 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,” Ms Ehimuan said.

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.