The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed Sh17 billion ($170 million) to advance women’s economic empowerment in Kenya and eight other African countries.
The funds will cover areas such as family planning and nutrition, as well as financial inclusion.
It noted that although more people overall have access to financial services than ever before, women are still left behind, especially in poor economies, leaving a global digital financial gender gap.
“One of the most profound ways a woman can make life better for herself and her family is to take control of her economic future,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“When women have money in their hands and the authority to choose how to spend it, they grow in confidence and power. They change the unwritten rules that say women are lesser than men.”
“We will work on systems in eight countries that will deposit these funds directly into bank accounts that are used and controlled by women,” the statement said.
The Gates Foundation has previously partnered with the government and NGOs in Kenya to advance healthcare, improve agricultural production, strengthen financial services for the poor, and improve maternal and child health.
Other regional countries to benefit from the new programme include Uganda and Tanzania.
The foundation said the investments will expand a new generation of “self-help groups” and that will empower women and adolescent girls with the skills and opportunities to imagine a different future and take bold steps that will transform their lives.