Tag Archives: Women Empowerment

WomenWill – Our commitment to support economic empowerment of women in rural India

At Google, we have a longstanding commitment to bring the benefits of the internet to everyone. From 2015 to 2020, over 1.5 billion people across the world came online, and India has been the fastest growing contributor. But connectivity is only foundational, we need to come together to ensure that everyone has the support needed to participate and equal opportunity to gain from these developments.

This belief led us to embark on our most ambitious program till date called the Internet Saathi to help narrow the digital gender divide in India. Today, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, we are delighted to share that, in its six year journey, this joint effort with Tata Trusts has had a cascading impact benefitting over 30 million women across rural India, and contributed to narrowing the digital gender gap in India. The program was designed to impart digital literacy training to women across 300,000 villages in India, and it took the courage and non-stop efforts of over 80,000 women trainers called Internet Saathis to make this possible.

But even as we come together to salute and celebrate the success of these Internet Saathis, we know the progress on gender equity has been uneven, fragile, frustratingly slow, and equality and equal economic empowerment of women is a long way off.  Post COVID-19, job cuts, income loss, and lack of access to education will prevent women and girls' economic advancement, particularly those from underserved communities, for generations to come. These alarming realities require swift and decisive action.

Today, at the virtual edition of Google for India event called Women Will, our CEO, Sundar Pichai, and President of Google.org, Jacquelline Fuller, made a series of announcements in support of the economic empowerment of women, both in India and globally, to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship enablers to help narrow the gender gap.

Supporting 1 million women entrepreneurs in rural India

Based on learnings from the Internet Saathi program, and to continue to support women in rural India to pursue their ambitions and improve their livelihoods through entrepreneurship, we are introducing a new Women Will web platform. This will be complemented by community support, mentorship, and accelerator programs for rural women entrepreneurs.

Available in English and Hindi, the Women Will platform is designed especially for women aspiring to explore entrepreneurship. Through a “how to” curriculum on turning an interest into a business, managing an enterprise, and promoting it for growth, the platform will provide guidance and support to women who want to convert an existing hobby or talent such as tailoring, beauty services, home tuition, food processing, etc. into some income. To begin with, we will work with 2,000 Internet Saathis to help other women gain from this resource and start on their entrepreneurial journey.

Supporting 100,000 women agri-workers with NASSCOM Foundation in India

To support women with access to skills they need for the future, we are committing $500K in funding to NASSCOM Foundation through our philanthropic arm, Google.org. With this support, they will reach 100,000 women agri workers with digital and financial literacy training in the six states of Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.  NASSCOM Foundation will also set up a helpline where women agri workers will be able to call and get further counselling on their entrepreneurship related queries.

US$25 million Google.org Global Impact Challenge for Women & Girls

As we make these commitments in India, we are very conscious that the disruption of 2020 has widened the gender equity gap globally. Post-COVID-19, a future of all-round prosperity is anchored in the guarantee of gender equity, and this requires concerted but bold efforts.

Google.org, which connects nonprofit innovators with the best of Google’s resources, is today launching a global Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls. Under this effort we will provide $25 million in overall funding to nonprofits and social organizations in India and around the world that are working to advance women and girls' economic empowerment and create pathways to prosperity.  Selected Impact Challenge grantees will also receive mentoring from Googlers, Ad Grants, and additional support to bring their ideas to life. Visit g.co/womenandgirlschallenge to learn more about the Challenge and apply by 10 April. 

Feature enablements on Search and Maps for women entrepreneurs   

For many entrepreneurs, Search and Maps are their storefront. In order to make it easier for people to support women-led businesses, Google will enable search in English for “women-led” — “women-led restaurants,” “women-led clothing stores” and more — on Google Search and Maps. This is based on an opt-in feature on Google My Business where women-led businesses can identify as such on their Business Profiles. This will not only enhance the online presence of hundreds of women-owned businesses but customers can easily extend their support by purchasing from them, leaving a great review, and sharing their Business Profile. 

GPay Business Pages for Homepreneurs

To empower homepreneurs, the vast majority of whom are women, Google Pay has announced the launch of Business Pages which enables them to create easy catalogues of their products and services and direct people to them through a unique URL. Interested buyers can chat with the homepreneur about their order and pay within the chat-based interface on Google Pay. 

The success of the Internet Saathi Program has strengthened our belief that the impact of investments behind empowering women and girls is deeply rewarding and has long standing benefits for generations to come. At every level, the costs of exclusion are high, and the advantages of equity are manifold.

And as our CEO Sundar Pichai said, we have the opportunity to build a future that is more equal and more inclusive and we must take it, and we are committed to continuing our journey on this course.

Posted by Sanjay Gupta, Country Head & Vice President, Google India, and Sapna Chadha, Senior Director Marketing, Google India & South East Asia

Empowering women in 100,000 villages with Internet Saathi program

“We want to find jobs online”
“I want to see temples”
“I want to be able to buy from my mobile”
“I want my kids to learn English”
“We wish we could  talk to our phones in our own native language”

These are just a few of asks by women in rural India. From being afraid to touch a smartphone, worried that they will spoil it, to now demanding services that can help them get more from the Internet -  they have come a long way.

Even as India has taken the lead to become the fastest growing Internet user market in the world, India’s Internet is still dominated by male users. The digital gender divide is even wider in rural India where digital literacy amongst women continues to be a challenge, this combined with socio-economic challenges are the major barriers that prevent women from using the Internet.

We have been working hard  to change this male:female ratio of new Internet users in rural India with the Internet Saathi program. Launched with a pilot in Rajasthan in July 2015, we announced our ambitious plans to scale the program, to cover 300,000 villages across India in December 2015.

Today, we’re happy to share that the Internet Saathi program, in partnership with Tata Trusts,  is live in over 100,000 villages across ten states in India. We have over 25,000 Internet Saathis who are working everyday across these villages, and have  helped over 10 million women learn about the Internet and how they can use it in their daily lives.

It is remarkable to see the passion of women like Parvati, one of the first Internet Saathi’s, and several others of them in rural India,  learning about the Internet, not just for their own needs but for their families, kids and their communities.  

Transformation of Sevakpura

Internet Saathis are now increasingly seen as change agents in their villages and continue to find more support from the communities and village heads for their work.

While we’re excited about reaching this milestone, we have also looked at measuring the impact of the program. At this juncture the findings of the research from IPSOS*, a leading market research company on the socio-economic impact of improving digital literacy amongst women in rural India are very heartening and provides us with rich insights on what more needs to be done.

Net Impact of the program on Internet awareness and usage amongst women in rural India
  • Almost 90% of women who have attended the trainings with the  Saathis have a better understanding of Internet
  • On an average 25% of women who have learned to use the Internet continue to use the Internet
    • At 35%, Gujarat has the highest percentage of women continuing to use the Internet after attending the program
    • At 17%, Rajasthan ranks the lowest in continuing usage of Internet
  • Primary use case for Internet is to learn new skills and find information
  • Cost of the smartphones is the biggest barrier for usage after training - Over half of the women trained cannot afford to buy the phone
  • Continued usage leads to better learning and more confidence in using more services on the internet

Impact on social standing of women in rural India:
  • 7% of women trained under the program feel that their social standing has improved. They believe their social standing has improved at individual, household and community level - they feel more informed, more confident about themselves

Economic Impact of the Program:
  • Overall, 33% trained women think that their economic condition have improved by learning new skills on the Internet
  • Women feel that Internet has helped them to supplement their income in their existing occupation; income increased by an additional 1% in the villages where training was conducted; and those who continue to use internet in their daily lives believe they have upped their income additionally by another four percent

Loaded with insights and learnings from the last two years, we’re continuing to expand the program further and have started to roll out Internet Saathi program in two new states - Haryana and Bihar. In Haryana, the program will be covering ~1000 villages. In Bihar the program has kicked off from Ramnagar, Bagaha, Lauria, Manjha and Chakai villages and  we will be covering ~7000+ villages expanding it further later in the year.

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 the 25000 Internet Saathis grows!

*IPSOS research was conducted in five states namely Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat and Jharkhand, where the training was conducted in 2015. 3239 respondents were covered in the survey, covering Internet Saathis (109), women who attended the training program (1057) and others who are still not familiar with the Internet (2073).

Posted by Sapna Chadha, Director Marketing,  South East Asia and India, Google

Empowering women through Information – Internet Saathi program expands to four new states

Bujji, an  Internet Saathi in Somavaram, Vijayawada, learnt how to use the internet and many ways the internet could be used to enhance and add value to  her  everyday life. Enthused by the possibility,  she became a trainer and trained her neighbour Nagalakshmi on how to use the internet. Nagalakshmi started researching sari blouse designs so she could start stitching more intricate clothing for her tailoring unit. She also researched going rates online and is now selling her handiwork at triple the former price. She is now able to use the extra money she makes to send her daughter to the best school in the area.

Bujji today is not only popular amongst the women in her village but she is also inspiring several other women in her neighbouring villages to learn.
Chetna, who lives in  Alwar District of Rajasthan too became an Internet Saathi in December, 2015.  She not only learnt about mustard farming techniques to run her farm but  her own  experience  inspired her  to train 500+ girls and women in span of four months. Several women, today  reach out to her for a range of issues, including  quick remedies for day to day health issues to sourcing  information on MNREGA and other government schemes.

Divided by geographies but united in their mission to empower other women and their communities to gain from the power of the internet, there are thousands of women like Chetna and Bujji who are becoming the change agents in rural India.

100,000 women across India have learned  to use the Internet under the ‘Internet Saathi’ program launched by Google and Tata Trusts  in India July 2015. Aimed at  bridging  the digital gender disparity in rural India and empowering women and their communities by providing basic training on the usage and benefits of the internet - ‘Internet Saathi’ program is driving  a meaningful impact in improving  the lives of women and their communities in rural India. In the last ten months we have been active in villages across five states in India, namely Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. And now we’re expanding the program to four new states - West Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura.  

‘Internet Saathi’ program focuses on training women in rural India to explore the various uses of Internet, who then impart training to the larger rural community in their own and neighbouring villages. Google helps in training the Saathi’s and provides data enabled devices along with the training material. On ground training classes is conducted by involving self help group federations and local NGO members who are supported by Tata Trusts on-ground network.

Only 1 in 10 Internet users in Rural India is a woman. Working along with our partners, we aim to create an enabling environment that empowers women in rural India. We have seen tremendous success in the Internet Saathi model - having local women trainer ensures continuity in the process of learning and imparting hands on training to women and children in villages - making it a highly scalable and sustainable program. We are committed to our mission of reaching 300,000 villages in India in next few years.

Posted by, Sapna Chadha, Head of Marketing, Google India