Celebrating International Women’s Day, Google has announced a series of efforts to support the economic empowerment of women at a virtual edition of Google for India event called ‘Women Will’. Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer (CEO), Alphabet Inc. and Google announced a global Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls initiative, under which Google.org will provide $25 million in grants to nonprofits and social enterprises in India and around the world that are doing important work to help women and girls reach their full potential. Incidentally, today marks the completion of the Internet Saathi program which Google launched with Tata Trusts to empower women across rural India with digital literacy skills and bridge the digital gender divide.
The success of the Internet Saathi program has shown how digital access and digital literacy can help women to reach their full potential and improve their livelihoods, Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer (CEO), Alphabet Inc. and Google, said. “When women have equal access to opportunity, we all benefit from their perspectives, creativity and their expertise, and this is true all over the world. Yet, when it comes to accessing opportunity, deep inequalities persist. Building on the Internet Saathi program success, we’re making a new commitment to help 1 million women in rural villages in India to become entrepreneurs through business tutorials, tools, and mentorship,” he added.
Based on learnings from the Internet Saathi program, and to continue to support women in rural India to pursue their ambitions and improve their livelihoods through entrepreneurship, Google has launched the Women Will web platform. This will be complemented by community support, mentorship and accelerator programs for rural women entrepreneurs. Available in English and Hindi, the Women Will platform is designed especially for women aspiring to explore entrepreneurship. To begin with, Google will work with 2,000 Internet Saathis to help other women gain from this resource and start on their entrepreneurial journey.
For Ratan Tata, chairman, Tata Trusts, the aim of the Internet Saathis initiative was to train women trainers to familiarise other women on how to utilise the internet, all in the rural environment. “In bringing today’s technology, and perhaps tomorrow’s technology, to bear for the benefit of rural women is a great move forward. Over time, these efforts will ensure that the true value of the internet can come into the fore,” he elaborated.
To support women with access to skills they need for the future, Google.org is committing a $500,1000 grant to NASSCOM Foundation. WIth this grant support, NASSCOM Foundation will reach 100,000 women agri workers with digital and financial literacy training in the six states. NASSCOM Foundation will also set up a helpline where the women agri workers will be able to call and receive further counselling on their entrepreneurship related queries.
Calling for bold, innovative ideas from India and around the world to advance the economic empowerment of women and girls, Jacquelline Fuller, VP, Google and president, Google.org, said. “The progress on gender has been uneven, fragile, frustratingly slow, and equality is a long way off. Post covid-19, it is both a moral, societal and economic imperative to take immediate action to counter the pandemic’s gender-regressive effects. It is estimated that doing so would result in $13 trillion in global GDP gains by 2030. Job cuts, income loss, and lack of access to education will prevent women and girls’ economic advancement, particularly those from underserved communities, for generations to come. These alarming realities require swift and decisive action,” she said.
Google.org will provide $25 million in overall funding to nonprofits and social organizations in India and around the world that are working to advance women and girls’ economic empowerment and create pathways to prosperity. Selected Impact Challenge grantees will also receive mentoring from Googlers, Ad Grants, and additional support to bring their ideas to life.
In the past few decades, the traditional barriers against women’s access to education, health, politics, and the economy weakened, Sanjay Gupta, vice president and country head, Google India, “The Internet Saathi program demonstrated the close relationship between gender equity, economic participation, and digital inclusion,” he said.