Google’s ‘Internet Saathi’ is transforming lives of rural women in India

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Google internet-saathi program for internet literarcy of rural women was also launched in West Bengal, India.

 

DHOLPUR, Rajasthan —Twenty-five-year-old Kamlesh Kumari, a resident of Sirmathura village in Dholpur district of Rajasthan, is deeply engrossed with a tablet, searching for child healthcare tips while her four-month-old daughter sleeps on her lap.  Educated till Class 8, Kumari craves for knowledge. With mobile phone internet in the village, she has now found a new ray of hope for gaining that knowledge. A confident Kumari not just surfs the Internet but also teaches other women in the village how to leverage the web.  Google India’s digital educative initiative, Internet Saathi, under Helping Women Get Online campaign, has been transforming lives of many women like Kumari in the villages of Dholpur. The Internet, which seemed a distant dream to village women, is now just a touch away. The program was launched in a collaboration with Tata Trusts.  “The usage of the Internet among women in India is lower than most countries in the world. Only one-third of India’s online users are women. This gender disparity of Internet user base was the big concern that we wanted to address,” said Sapna Chadha, marketing head of Google India.  “We launched an initiative called Helping Women Get Online that was aimed at encouraging women to use the Internet in their daily life,” Chadha told media.  While Internet users are growing at 56 percent, the growth rate of women Internet users is only 27 percent in rural India. Through Internet Saathi, Google aims to bridge the gender divide in technology which currently puts women in rural India at further risk of getting marginalized in society.  Internet Saathi, which was started in 2015, has now reached around 4,000 villages with 1,900 trained ‘saathis.’ Google is adding up to 500 additional ‘saathis’ per week. More than 100,000 women have been trained so far. Under this initiative, Google conducts various outreach and educational programs. The initiative has brought changes in the lives of many other women, like Gayatri Devi, who has been a ‘saathi’ since November 2015.

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