How the Global Fund for Women Technology Initiative Can Help Empower Women Worldwide
This week I am surrounded by thousands of advocates, policymakers, donors, heads of state, NGOs, health practitioners and young agents of change at the Women Deliver 2016 conference in Copenhagen.
It’s a privilege to be here with people from around the world, all to discuss one thing: how to work together to push for new and ambitious commitments toward improving the lives of girls and women.
Having spent the last six years of my career at eBay, in the heart of Silicon Valley, I’ve seen firsthand how digital technologies can have a strong impact on people in the farthest corners of the world. Greater connectivity can foster learning, increase economic growth and provide life-changing information for women and girls that can promote their health, education and wellbeing.
As mobile phone networks proliferate and cover even more areas around the world, we have the chance to affect the lives of people who need the help most, creating big changes in how women learn, access health information, make cash payments, cultivate local agriculture and even participate in government.
Bolstering the Health of Women Through Technology
Innovation is at Johnson & Johnson’s core. From breakthrough health technology to scalable social impact investments, we marry human-centered design and innovative thinking to improve the health of women and girls around the globe.
Recently we announced that we fulfilled our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals by reaching more than 120 million women and children per year with the aim of improving life expectancy and quality by 2015. Since 2010, we’ve reached more than 400 million total.
Our digital health strategy was essential in helping us achieve that ambitious goal.
In 2011, we were a founding member of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action, a public-private partnership between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Johnson & Johnson, the mHealth Alliance, the United Nations Foundation and BabyCenter that brought information to expectant mothers on their mobile phones—moms who otherwise had limited access to prenatal care.
That project ultimately led to our partnership with the South African Health Ministry to launch MomConnect, a mobile platform to help pregnant woman in South Africa gain critical information about pregnancy and their developing baby using their phone.
In the course of a year, MomConnect has grown into the largest program of its kind ever implemented by a country government nationwide. And South Africa has plans to expand MomConnect to reach nurses and midwives with educational and motivational information, and to provide additional targeted support to mothers living with HIV.
The Global Fund for Women Technology Initiative
I believe that a just and thriving world depends on women and girls having equal access to—and control over—technology. This is why I’m excited to announce our newest partnership today with The Global Fund for Women Technology Initiative to help close the gender technology gap and empower women and girls to create innovative solutions to advance equitable access to healthcare.
Global Fund for Women has been our partner for more than a decade, tackling important topics such as the impact of HIV on women, maternal and child health and gender-based violence.
Last year, we invested seed funding in the Global Fund’s new initiative to support 20 women-led organizations around the world. The program aims to help women access and manage technology to, for example, start a movement against gender-based violence.
One grantee created a mapping tool to crowdsource reporting of sexual harassment in Egypt. A female-led Indian tech group created confidence- and skills-building units alongside their computer courses for high school girls. An organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo is training survivors of violence to access online services and connect with others.
So today we are doubling our commitment to the initiative, opening the program up to 20 more female entrepreneurs around the world.
Technology can help level the playing field between the sexes, and empower whole communities to achieve better health. I encourage all of you to spread the word so that, together, we can put the power of technology in every woman’s hand.
Lauren Moore, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, is responsible for driving strategy development and implementation of the company’s Corporate Citizenship and strategic philanthropy. She also oversees the Johnson & Johnson Patient Assistance Foundation and the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust.