In its mission to bridge the digital gender divide in rural India and empower women through digital literacy, Google India and Tata Trusts have benefited 15 million women with 150,000 villages under its Internet Saathi program.
The program has contributed towards bridging the digital gender divide in rural India (female to male ratio from 1 in 10 in 2015 to 3 in 10 in 2017), and has benefited over 15 million women in 13 states, the program has now expanded to cover four new states — Goa, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Telangana to train around 1,000 saathis in 10,500 villages.
The program has motivated many enterprising women, who are now using the internet, to find new opportunities — be it Vandana Potdar from Karandi, Pune who helped start a community owned Potato chips business or Shital from Sangli, Maharashtra, who helped her son prepare and clear the Science Olympiad exam, by finding study modules on the Internet or Padmavati who set-up an lemongrass oil production unit in Guntur and learnt the various manufacturing techniques using the internet, or hundreds and thousands of other women.
Talking about the initiative, Sapna Chadha, Director of Marketing, Southeast Asia & India, Google said, “In the last three years, the program has not only contributed to improving the digital gender ratio but has become a major force of change in rural India – inspiring millions of women, their families to embrace the change and gain from the Internet in ways that we couldn’t even imagine.”
Raman Kalyanakrishnan, Head – Strategy, Tata Trusts said, “This wouldn’t have been possible without the most important stakeholders, the women themselves – the vehicles of transformation. They have shown a great amount of enthusiasm and keenness to learn, despite many challenges. Keeping the momentum of this initiative, we will be continuing our outreach in the next 150,000 villages to improve digital literacy and create sustainable livelihood opportunities for women in rural India.”
Launched as a pilot in 2015 along with Tata Trusts, the program has a network of 48,000 Internet Saathis spread across the villages of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Goa, Karnataka and Telangana.