This International Women's Day, Hello World is proud to inspire inclusion every day across our 107 Hello Hubs.

This International Women's Day, Hello World is proud to inspire inclusion every day across our 107 Hello Hubs.

Recent global research shows that women are 19 percent  less likely to use the internet than men (GSMA, 2023) and there are specific barriers for women which limit access, including lack of affordable devices, lack of digital confidence and often prevailing cultural norms which do not empower women’s use of the internet (UNHCR, 2023)

This International Women's Day, Hello World is proud to inspire inclusion every day across our 107 Hello Hubs. Our experience over the last decade shows that women and girls across many of our Hello Hub communities face barriers to accessing a Hello Hub and all that it has to offer. This is why we have developed tailored programmes and approaches to support the inclusion of women and address the gender digital divide. 

Here are some of the ways that we support inclusion and support women to overcome the barriers they face in accessing the internet:

  • Engaging women’s leaders: we work with women’s leaders to ensure that women are involved in the whole Hub build process. If women take part in building the Hub, they are more likely to feel equally entitled to use it. Women are also represented on every community-led Hub management committee and where possible we select a female Hub Community Support Officer. 

  • Device access: each Hub provides 8 touchscreen tablets, so that anyone without their own device is still guaranteed internet access. 

  • Women’s only hours: each community creates a timetable which gives specific groups, including women, a dedicated time to use the Hub. This helps to build confidence of women coming to the Hub, especially if it’s their first time.

  • Dedicated programmes: we deliver dedicated women’s only cohorts for our digital literacy programme which provide a safe space for women to learn how to use the Hub confidently and in a way which is relevant to their life. Our life skills programme for boys and girls is also an effective way to encourage young women to make use of the Hub, as it teaches confidence, leadership and awareness of your rights. 

  • Tailored to women’s needs: it’s hard to learn to type whilst you are holding a baby. Women are encouraged to bring their children to the Hub and the Hub community support officer will ensure there is a space for children to play or be looked after whilst their mothers are learning. Similarly, women will tell us the best time of the day for them to participate in Hub programmes, often not in the morning when they are busy at home. 

  • Women’s fellowship: our engineering fellowship addresses a deficit of women engineers available to hire in Uganda. This paid position trains women engineers through a year-long programme working with Hello World, helping to create a better gender balance within our team and giving young women the practical experience they need to progress in their engineering career. On builds, these women also act as fantastic role models for girls and young women.

“Do you know what you have done for these girls' future? You have connected them to the world and, hence, opened up opportunities for them. There is so much that they can know.” Esther, Central Uganda.

We’re really proud of the impact our approach has on fostering inclusion, confidence and digital skills building.  We have seen the impact that focused, women's only digital skills training has had on women in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Northern Uganda. At the beginning of the course, many of the participants were not confident opening a computer or typing their name. By the end, the 40 women completing training  had increased their skills by an average of 49 per cent from their baseline test. One of the participants, Reginah, said, "The most I enjoyed in the training is I now know how to create my own account, I can type on the microsoft page, I know how to copy and paste, I can write email, search for videos. I thank hello world for having come up with such a brilliant idea for training young women in bidibidi refugee settlement".

In 2024, we are expanding our work on addressing the gender digital divide across Nepal and Uganda. We are also heading to Burundi through a new partnership with CARE. This new project will equip the CARE team with the skills to build Hello Hubs in Burundi with a specific focus on digitising their Village Savings and Loans programme, enabling women Hub users to digitally save and bank, increasing their economic independence and financial inclusion. 

The gender digital divide is complex but crucial to address in order to inspire inclusion. Join us on this International Women’s Day as we celebrate all of our women Hub users globally who have overcome barriers to accessing the internet and are creating businesses, connecting across borders, learning new skills and improving their lives via the Hello Hubs.