Closing the Gender Digital Divide with World Pulse

With support from a new grant from Equinix Foundation, World Pulse is accelerating digital inclusion for women and girls globally

Sujata Narayan
Jensine Larsen
Closing the Gender Digital Divide with World Pulse

Bridging the gender-based digital divide is a necessity. Digital connectivity has become a basic human right associated with access to education, employment opportunities, healthcare and other community resources. Unfortunately, progress on gender-based digital inclusion has slowed—and even reversed—in recent years. Women remain 18% less likely than men to own a smartphone, which puts 315 million women at a disadvantage when it comes to mobile internet access.[1]

For more than 15 years, World Pulse—an independent, women-led, global social network for social change—has been at the forefront of the movement for digital inclusion for women, girls and gender-expansive individuals. Through its social network, training programs and collaboration with tech industry partners, World Pulse is leading the way to close the gender digital divide.

Bridging the digital divide

The Equinix Foundation partners with organizations to advance digital inclusion, from providing access to technology and connectivity to developing the skills required for technology careers.

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Amplifying women’s voices so they can thrive

Centering its approach on the belief that women are the experts on what’s important in their communities, World Pulse provides a supportive online community as well as digital storytelling and change-making training to women, girls and gender-expansive individuals in 227 countries and territories. Its digital empowerment framework has delivered a clear impact on tens of thousands of women globally and is creating a ripple effect of change:[2]

  • 80.7% of members surveyed reported World Pulse increased their belief in their ability to take action for change.
  • 76.8% reported that their actions as a result of World Pulse made an impact.
  • 63.3% reported that World Pulse helped them increase credibility as a leader on an issue.

In particular, the World Pulse Digital Ambassador program is reaching into global communities historically left out of the digital world and providing training to help members connect and create change together. Its approach elevates the voices of emerging women leaders, and it uses a systematic monitoring, evaluation and learning methodology to examine how digital empowerment leads to members taking action for personal and social change. World Pulse Digital Ambassadors work on issues that directly affect them and their communities—from human rights to peace and security, women’s health, climate change and environmental degradation, economic power, educational equality, gender-based violence and more.

World Pulse Founder and CEO Jensine Larsen (2nd from left), with World Pulse community leaders Martha Llano, Beatrice Achieng Nas and Sarvina Kang. Photo credit: Darcy Kiefel

Here are a few stories of World Pulse Digital Ambassadors in action:

  • Esther Ndihano Atosha is the co-founder of a youth peace and security coalition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who’s led 171 digital trainings for World Pulse, focusing on underconnected individuals in rural areas. She shared on the World Pulse platform that “technology has given us freedom of expression and the chance to be heard worldwide.” For her efforts, in 2022, she was selected as one of five ambassadors of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) first-ever World Trade Congress on Gender. [3]
  • In Mexico, Sandra Munoz focuses on digital security education for girls. Using World Pulse to connect and collaborate, Sandra launched a cybersecurity awareness education effort in 2022 to help children and teenagers in Mexico and Panama understand Internet addiction and online risks. To provide digital skills to help kids make safer choices, Sandra created a workshop and summer courses for girls aged 8–12 (online and hybrid). She also worked to launch a formal campaign for the cybersecurity of Mexican girls towards #25N and the UN 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
  • Carolyn Seaman, a Nigerian tech leader, trains girls to drive social change through digital media and storytelling. Carolyn founded the Girls Voices Initiative to speed up the journey toward gender equality and broaden the types of education and skill-building girls receive.[4] Through her Tech Tackle Hackathon Project and her Girl Nation social impact film project, Carolyn has reached nearly 1,200 girls. “If there’s no space at the table, create your own table and bring the space to you,” Carolyn says. “Engage and demand action where it needs to happen.”

Building momentum with Her Digital Leadership Alliance

To ensure a more equitable and sustainable future for communities around the world, corporations, government entities and nonprofit organizations are joining forces to innovate, share resources and solve digital inclusion collaboratively. Today, Equinix is expanding its long-time commitment to World Pulse with a $100,000 grant from the Equinix Foundation, spread over three years, to support its work accelerating digital inclusion and closing the gender digital divide. The $100,000 Foundation grant builds on the nearly $250,000 in funding and 300+ hours of employee volunteer time from Equinix since the partnership with World Pulse began in 2015.

The new grant specifically supports Her Digital Leadership Alliance—an initiative connecting women in 50 countries with digital skills to build grassroots momentum around bridging the gender digital divide.[5] Her Digital Leadership Alliance is a collaborative project launched by World Pulse and dozens of business, government, women’s rights and digital rights partners, including Equinix. The program offers:

  • Online digital training and an online peer community hosted by World Pulse
  • Digital certification to support career opportunities and advancement
  • Extensive global partnerships with organizations that serve women
  • Real-time member impact tracking of initiatives and movements via an online impact dashboard
  • Crowdsourcing and amplifying women’s voices to international decision-makers[6]

Her Digital Leadership Alliance is a five-year commitment with business, government and civil society to equip 20,000 grassroots women leaders with digital leadership, advocacy and trainer skills. The initiative demonstrates the collective impact that’s possible when corporate and nonprofit leaders come together in trust-based philanthropic partnerships to support grassroots change.

Join the movement for digital inclusion

Digital inclusion requires more than just access to technology and the internet; it’s also about enabling people to engage fully and freely online. Creating safe online spaces is fundamental to building grassroots change, and it’s more important than ever for women, girls and gender-expansive individuals, who face a disproportionate amount of online harassment. Building trust, safety and connection defines the shared mission of Equinix and World Pulse, and we’re committed to using technology as a tool for transformation.

Equinix Foundation and World Pulse will continue to partner to close the gender digital divide in the coming years. In 2020, World Pulse committed to a ten-year digital pathway to connect half a million emerging women leaders across all sectors who would then go on to impact a billion more in their communities. Equinix Foundation is proud to support this work.

Want to join the movement? The Her Digital Leadership Alliance is growing and welcomes more programmatic and funding partners. Interested individuals can reach out to to receive more information.

Visit the World Pulse website to discover more about our mission, vision and impact on the gender digital divide.

To learn more about the Equinix Foundation’s purpose and priorities, visit the Foundation webpage.


[1] The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2022, GSMA, June 2022.

[2] 2021 Global Impact Review, World Pulse, 2021.

[3] Five gender equality advocates chosen as ambassadors of the World Trade Congress on Gender, World Trade Organization, November 17, 2022.

[4] Girls Voices Initiative.

[5] New Alliance to Strengthen Women’s Digital Skills and Changemaking Globally at the UN Generation Equality Forum, Business Wire, July 1, 2021.

[6] Five gender equality advocates chosen as ambassadors of the World Trade Congress on Gender, World Trade Organization, November 17, 2022.


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Sujata Narayan Director, Community Impact
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Jensine Larsen Guest Author: Founder and CEO, World Pulse
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