This blog is part of the WomenConnect Challenge Blog Series: Introducing Strategies for Closing the Gender Digital Divide. USAID’s WomenConnect Challenge (WCC) is a global call for solutions to improve women’s participation in everyday life by meaningfully changing the ways women access and use technology. In the first round of the Challenge, WCC awarded nine grants to organizations working to identify and change the social and economic circumstances that keep women offline and under-empowered. Through close partnership with local awardee teams and community members, WCC has identified five proven strategies for closing the gender digital divide and increasing women’s empowerment. This blog explores one strategy at length.

In Bihar, India, Mahadalit women are regarded as the poorest, lowest caste and are often isolated due to cultural barriers, social norms, and rural location. Mahadalit women are also at high risk of becoming victims of rape or sexual harassment, often perpetrated by members of upper castes. The looming threat of violence, caste discrimination, and subsequent deprivation of social benefits and entitlements often silence and silo women, hindering their ability to self-advocate or come together to work for change.