When we first met Parveen Begum -- an Internet Saathi, from a small village in Guntur, last year, she had many apprehensions and asked, ‘Is the Internet meant for me?’, ‘Will my family allow me to step outside the house to train other women?’, ‘How will the people of my village react to this change?’. And she isn't alone. Hundreds and Thousands of women we meet along the journey of the Internet Saathi program, ask us similar questions. But today, Parveen Begu and 48000 other Internet Saathis have not only learnt to use the Internet themselves, but have also helped over 15M women in 150000 villages to unlock their true potential.
These women have gone ahead to do amazing things, once they learn to use the Internet and one such story is that of Padmavati from Guntur who was trained by Parveen Begum. Padmavati started her own business of lemongrass oil. She learnt the production process and techniques and then came up with the idea of setting up a small production plant in Guntur.
Today is an important day for the Internet Saathi program, as we reach the halfway point for our milestone. The program is spread across the villages of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and has also expanded to four new states -- Uttarakhand, Goa, Karnataka, and Telangana, in the past couple of months.
We are committed to bridging the digital gender divide in India and will continue to work towards reaching our larger ambition of 300,000 villages across India i.e. covering 50% of total villages in the country.
The program focuses on educating women to use the internet, who then impart training to other women in their community and neighboring villages. What’s incredible to see is the impact the program has had on millions of women, their families and communities.
We are grateful to Tata Trusts, our onground NGO partners, local activists and several Google volunteers who have contributed to the success of this program. We watch with pride as the family of 48000 Internet Saathis grows!
By Sapna Chadha, Director of Marketing, Southeast Asia & India, Google