While women are making rapid progress in adoption of Internet in urban areas of India, women in rural India are getting left behind. Today only 12% of Internet users in rural India are women as per iCube 2014 report. There is a need to address this challenge and empower women in rural India through training and programs that can truly transform their lives. And we are delighted to share the launch of an exciting new partnership with Tata Trusts and Intel to launch an Internet literacy campaign for women in rural India.
The new initiative titled “Internet Saathi” will aim at enabling women in rural areas to use the Internet and benefit from it in their daily lives. We hope that this joint initiative will help us to bridge the technology gender divide, which currently puts women in rural India at risk of getting left behind as the world around them benefits from Internet.
We announced this in Mumbai on 3rd July with our partners, NGOs and media. The launch was also graced by Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts who lauded the efforts of companies engaged in bringing technology to all sections of society to transform the nation. The initiative will provide basic training on the usage and benefits of Internet for women through specially designed Internet cycle carts that will visit villages to provide easy access to women.
At the launch of Internet Saathi
From L to R: Sandeep Menon (Country Head Marketing Google India), R Venkataramanan (Executive Trustee, Tata Trusts), Rajan Anandan (VP & Managing Director, Google SEA & India), Debjani Ghosh (Managing Director, Intel South Asia), Ratan Tata (Chairman, Tata Trusts)
Built on the back of a cycle, the Cart is modeled on India's traditional distribution system that is used to carry everything from ice-cream to industrial supplies. The operator or the "Internet Saathi" would be akin to the village postman who used to be the single point contact for the village with the outside world both in terms of information as well as communication. Tata Trusts, with its well spread on ground NGOs network, will manage the on-ground rollout with its partners whereas Google will invest in providing the Internet-enabled Carts and the training content.
The initiative will kick off with 1000 such carts starting from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Jharkhand and will be rolled out across the country eventually reaching out to over 4500 villages covering 5 lakh women across rural India over the next eighteen months.
The internet Cart would be available in the village for a minimum of two days every week for over a period of four to six months. It will create awareness and also try to ensure that adequate training is provided to use the devices till women are confident of using the devices independently.
Intel who has been a long-term partner of Google India’s Helping Women Get Online initiative will also support the initiative. This new initiative will help us to extend our helping women get online outreach to rural India. Since the launch of this initiative, Google has directly trained over 1.5 million women on the basics of the Internet.
Posted by Sandeep Menon, Country Marketing Director, Google India