REDWOOD CITY, CA--(Marketwired - Mar 2, 2016) - The Vodafone Americas Foundation today added a new initiative to empower women and girls through technology. The new focus area will provide grants and additional support to technology-driven programs to strengthen the stance of women and girls. By adding this initiative to its three original priorities -- spark innovation, improve lives, and strengthen the global development sector -- the Vodafone Americas Foundation will support programs designed to enable and empower women and girls through the advantages of technology.

"Our core priorities are designed to foster social change in global and local communities through connected solutions. This new initiative will provide opportunities for all women to learn sustainable skills, participate in STEM education, and thrive and excel in technology-driven leadership roles," said Chuck Pol, Chairman, Vodafone Americas Foundation. "We will support advocacy and gender work for women in and through technology that will strengthen their stance in the sector while continuing to improve lives of all around the world."

Encouraging Women to Gain Technology Skills
Women represent over half of college graduates in the United States1, yet, make up only 30 percent of workers at large technology companies. At the same time, there is a growing need for technology skills related to STEM and cybersecurity across the industry. Women can play a vital role in helping the 70 percent2 of organizations with "capability gaps" as one of their top five challenges.

The Vodafone Americas Foundation has partnered with several organizations including Girls Who Code and TechGirlz to drive programs supporting the future generation of women in technology. The Vodafone Americas Foundation awarded a grant to Girls Who Code to help provide computer science education and exposure to 1 million young women by 2020.

With TechGirlz, the Vodafone Americas Foundation is helping fund support for a middle school technology marketplace designed specifically to keep girls interested in technology until they are able to reach high school where, traditionally, programming classes are available.

Preventing Violence against Women through Mobile Technology
The Vodafone Americas Foundation will also partner with Internews, an international non-profit working at the intersection of media, information, and development to ensure people are fully empowered with the information they need. The partnership will address increased online harassment, online violence and hate speech toward women. Worldwide, women are faced with growing threats online, which deter them from engaging with technology. One in four women between the ages of 18 and 24 have been sexually harassed or threatened online.3

Internews will receive a grant from the Vodafone Americas Foundation for a campaign titled "Secure" to curate gender-based violence prevention resources into a mobile security toolkit. Open source content will address prevention and recovery from online acts such as doxing, trolling, and other instances of online gender-based violence. The resources will empower women to take control of their privacy and mobile security needs and enhance their experience navigating the web.

These initiatives under the Vodafone Americas Foundation's new empowering women priority joins a larger Vodafone commitment to promote women within technology. In 2015, Vodafone became one of the first organizations in the world to define a mandatory minimum maternity benefits standard. The company also committed to increasing the number of women in leadership roles within its company to 30 percent.

About the Vodafone Americas Foundation
The Vodafone Americas Foundation is part of Vodafone's global network of 27 foundations. It is affiliated with Vodafone Group. In addition the Wireless Innovation Project, the Vodafone Americas Foundation provides grants in the United States to Improve People's Lives, Support the Development Sector, Spark Innovation, and Empower Women and Girls. For more information, please visit:

About Vodafone Group
Vodafone is one of the world's largest telecommunications companies and provides a range of services including voice, messaging, data and fixed communications. Vodafone has mobile operations in 26 countries, partners with mobile networks in 57 more, and fixed broadband operations in 17 markets. As of 31 December 2015, Vodafone had 461 million mobile customers and 13 million fixed broadband customers. For more information, please visit:

1 "Digest of Education Statistics," National Center for Education Statistics, 2014

2 "The Corporate Learning Factbook: Benchmarks, Trends, and Analysis of the U.S. Training Market.," Bersin by Deloitte, 2014

3 "Online Harassment," Pew Research Center, 2014