About one lakh women in rural India have already benefited from its Internet literacy drive under the ‘Internet Saathi’ initiative, Google India today said. Google India, along with Tata Trusts, also said it is now expanding the internet Saathi program to four more states — West Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura. Also Read - Google Workspace now available for everyone, including free Google account owners
The joint initiative aims to overcome the digital gender disparity in rural India and empower rural women and communities to facilitate digitally literacy by making them aware of the benefits of the internet, it said in a statement. Launched in July 2015, internet Saathi is now live in nine states in India. This includes villages in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh where the program has already helped 1,00,000 women, it added. Also Read - Android 12 beta 2 rolling out: New privacy features, tweaked design and more
The program focuses on training women and larger communities in rural India to explore various uses and benefits of the Internet. The Saathis then impart training to the rural community in their own and neighboring villages. Google provides the devices and the training material to the Saathis. The final rollout of the program and the training of the master trainers, which comprises self-help groups and women’s federations, are overseen and facilitated by Tata Trusts through its field partners on ground.
Internet-enabled devices like tablets and smartphones are also placed on school premises and at community centers, self-help group meeting places, agriculture centers and the like.
“Internet usage by women in rural areas continues to remain a challenge. Only 1 in 10 Internet users in rural India is a woman. With this program, we are creating an enabling environment that empowers them while also bridging the technology gender divide,” Google India Head Marketing Sapna Chadha said.
She added that the program expansion will take the company closer to its aim of reaching 3 lakh villages in India in next few years.