To help rural women go online, Google’s Internet Saathi programme, which is being run in over 100,000 villages, will also be rolled out in Bihar and Haryana. Google runs this programme in partnership with Tata Trust. Sapna Chadha, Head of Marketing, Google India, told The Indian Express, ”It’s been a core strategy of Google to put the internet in every Indian’s hands. What we saw was a significant gender gap in India when it comes to internet usage. In rural India, the situation is much worse.”
The project started almost three years ago and in the coming years, Google aims to touch the mark of 3 lakh villages. Chadha further said, “We know that there are a number of areas holding women from getting on the internet and that we couldn’t solve all of them. But what we could solve was that we can make the internet available to them and be understood for what it is.” Internet Saathis are women, who have been trained by Google and Tata Trust to understand the internet, to help other women of the village understand it so that it can be used to make their lives better from both social and economic perspectives.
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According to Google, so far 10 million women across India have been enabled with the programme. Google research shows women exposed to this programme have shown improvement in their socio-economic condition, compared to villages where the programme has not been launched. Tata Trust is investing on the daily stipends for the ‘Internet Saathis, while Google is providing the device and the training. Chadha said the task of training these women is not easy since they face a lot of barriers and resistance from family but many cases have come to the fore where the husbands have supported their wivess’ training.