Google India’s ‘Internet Saathi’ programme aimed to empower rural women with digital literacy has now added two more states — Punjab and Odisha to its kitty — thus expanding the initiative’s reach to over 2.6 lakh villages in 20 states, the company announced recently.
Launched as a pilot project in 2015 along with Tata Trusts, the ‘Internet Saathi’ programme focuses on educating women on how to use the Internet, who then impart training to other women in their community and neighbouring villages.
In the four-year journey, 70,000 trained women are using the Internet to drive positive change in their communities and have already trained over 2.6 crore fellow women.
“It is remarkable to see the passion of women in rural India, who are learning about the Internet, not just for their own needs but for their families, kids and their communities,” said Neha Barjatya, Chief Internet Saathi, Google India.
In Punjab, the programme will cover around 5,000 villages, whereas, in Odisha, it will cover over 16,000 villages.
In a recent study with Kantar, Google interviewed over 2,500 people across rural India to understand the impact that providing access has on their livelihood.
“About 70 per cent of Internet Saathis believe they are seen as a source of information in their village — people are coming to them consistently for answers to help children with schoolwork, to learn new cooking recipes, search for jobs, or to run a business,” the findings from Kantar ICUBE Study 2018 showed.
Eight in 10 Saathis and their beneficiaries believe that people in their village respect them more. Three in 10 Saathis and two in 10 beneficiaries have set up some form of business. This, in turn, has provided economic growth, with their business often earning Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 every month, said Google.