Connecting women with the online world
India has the world's second largest internet population with over 400 million users, but only 30% are women. In rural India, only 1 out of 10 internet users is a woman*.
To help close this gap, in July 2015 we partnered with Tata Trusts to launch “Internet Saathi”, a digital literacy program. Women in rural India can complete the Saathi training, learning how to access and use the internet, and they in turn impart training to their community and neighbouring villages.
In partnership with Tata Trusts
Day with a Saathi
To celebrate International Women's Day, we invited people from different backgrounds to spend a day with Internet Saathis. They had the chance to see first hand how Saathis are using the internet to bring opportunities to their villages.
The Internet Saathis have already helped over 2 million women across India benefit from the Internet. Learn about a few of their stories below.
Before Laxmi became an Internet Saathi, she thought the Internet was a place where you could get songs — but only through a computer. Her motivation to join the Saathi program was to help herself and other women in her home state prosper. While her husband supported her joining, other men in the village weren't so encouraging. They didn't want her to teach others, apprehensive about what the Internet would bring to the village. The women, while interested, didn't even know how to hold a smartphone.
Laxmi started by teaching women how to take selfies and showing them new food recipes, which created a lot of interest. She has used the Internet to get information on farming, submit forms for Government schemes and find news to share with her village. She's also helped women in neighbouring villages learn new stitching designs, leading to an increase in income. But her proudest moment came when she was able to stop an incident of child marriage in her village by showing the parents the laws related to child marriage, as well as information on how harmful it is for the girl.
Now 23 years old, Laxmi wants to learn how to use a laptop.
Preeti is 27 years old and has an MA in Hindi. She's a teacher in a college and was a volunteer with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, working on development of sports among youth. She knew the Internet offered a lot of possibilities but had no idea how to use it.
Always interested in helping improve the lives of women in her village, Preeti became an Internet Saathi because it gave her the chance to meet a lot of women and help solve their problems. But she found most women in the villages were skeptical of learning. They didn't own phones of their own and their husbands wouldn’t let them use theirs -- so she started with training the younger girls in the village. Today, she's helping adolescent girls search for the best available college in terms of tuition fees and choice of subjects, and has been helping them with career advice.
One of Preeti’s favourite stories is the time she helped a divorced, unemployed woman with two daughters learn how to make blouses. That woman is now earning on her own, happy that she can give her daughters a better education. Preeti says her next step will be connecting women to capital to start their own businesses.
Parvathi got married at a very young age. Her husband let her study for a few years, but once she had children she had to stay at home to raise them and manage the household.
Parvathi’s dream had always been to help her community but her restricted life didn’t allow for it. A few years back she managed to convince her family to let her join a women’s federation (Saheli Samiti) and started working with them. It gave her a sense of empowerment and purpose. Through the federation she joined the Internet Saathi program and says it is helping her improve the lives of those in her community. A disabled couple trained by her used the Internet to learn how to make various dishes and now have a sustained source of income. She is using the information available online to complain to the right authorities regarding lack of basic facilities such lack of mid day meals in schools or an illegal alcohol shop creating nuisance. With the power of information at her hand she says she has nothing to fear.
Her local community has appreciated her work and she is now the President of Saheli Samiti for her entire district.
Mridula studied till the 10th standard. She is married to a farmer and has two children, a son and a daughter. She claims that because her family members are very supportive she has been able to learn about the Internet and reach out to others in the village effectively. Now she is very well recognized in the village by women and children who refer to her as Saathi Akka (Saathi Sister).
She’s helped students find coaching classes and as well their exam results on the Internet. A number of women in her village have learnt how to make Chicken Pickle and Mysorepek (a speciality sweet).
A school headmistress who is Mridula’s student and has been a teacher for 30 years has started using the internet to help interest students more deeply in their learning, saying this has helped make lessons more fun.
Opportunity for women brings benefits for everyone
Womenwill is a Google initiative to create economic opportunity for women everywhere, so that they can grow and succeed. Helping women make the most of technology to build skills, get inspired, and connect with each other through trainings, events and advocacy, we aim to drive conversations promoting gender equality to benefit everyone.About Womenwill