Google's "Internet Saathi" program expands to 4 new states
Google's "Internet Saathi" program is set to expand to four new states: Karnataka, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Telangana. The program aims to bridge the digital gender divide by teaching some women (or Saathis) how to use the internet, who in turn train other women in their community and neighboring villages. It will cover 10,500 villages across the four states and train around 1,000 new Saathis.
Internet Saathi was first launched as a pilot project in 2015. So far, the program has reached over 150,000 villages across the 13 states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, and Tamil Nadu. With a network of 48,000 Saathis, it has benefitted over 15 million women in rural India.
"In the last three years, the program has not only contributed to improving the digital gender ratio but has become a major force of change in rural India," Sapna Chadha, Director of Marketing, Southeast Asia & India, Google, said. "It has inspired millions of women to embrace the change and gain from the internet in ways we couldn't even imagine," she added.
While in 2015, only one in 10 women knew how to use the internet, in 2017, this number increased to three in 10 women knowing how to use the internet.
"Keeping the momentum of this initiative, we will be continuing our outreach in the next 150,000 villages to improve digital literacy and create sustainable livelihood opportunities for women in rural India," said Raman Kalyanakrishnan, Head - Strategy, Tata Trusts.