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 programme to four more states — West Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura.
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 programme has already helped 1,00,000 women, it added.
The programme 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 neighbouring villages.
Google provides the devices and the training material to the Saathis.
The final rollout of the programme 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 centres, self-help group meeting places, agriculture centres 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 programme, 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 programme expansion will take the company closer to its aim of reaching 3 lakh villages in India in next few years.