Google India and Tata Trusts on Wednesday announced to expand their joint programme “Internet Saathi” that brings digital literacy to the doorsteps of women in four more states in the country.
The programme will now be available in West Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura. Launched in 2015, it already covers nine states in India, including villages in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
“Internet usage by women in rural areas continues to remain a challenge. Only one 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,” said Sapna Chadha, head of marketing, Google India, in a statement.
Under the programme, Google provides devices and training material to the “Saathis” who then impart training to the rural community in their own and neighbouring villages.
The final roll out of the programme and the training of master trainers is overseen and facilitated by Tata Trusts through its field partners on the ground.
“Of India’s 350 million internet users, nearly 100 million dwell in the rural parts of the country. Of these, only 10 million are women. We are delighted that under the ‘Internet Saathi’ initiative, we have reached a milestone of training 100,000 women in less than a year,” added Ganesh Neelam, head-innovation, at Tata Trusts.
The initiative aims to empower rural women and communities to facilitate digitally literacy by making them aware of the benefits of internet and the services they can use for their various needs, the statement said.