Brightening millions of life with ‘digital touch’, Google’s ‘Internet Saathi’ covers 2.6 Lakh villages

News Bharati    16-Jul-2019
New Delhi, Jul. 16: Google is taking many initiatives all over the world for a safe and enriched digital experience. In India, Google engaged in internet literacy with the program- “Internet Saathi’.
With the aim to empower rural women how to use the Internet, Google India’s 'Internet Saathi' program now added two more states -- Punjab and Odisha -- thus reaching 2.6 lakh villages in 20 states, as per Company’s statement.
Launched as a pilot project in 2015 along with Tata Trusts, 'Internet Saathi' program focuses on educating women how to use the Internet, who then impart training to other women in their community and neighboring villages. In the four-year journey, 70,000 trained 'Internet Saathi' are using the Internet to drive positive change in their communities and have already benefited over 2.6 crore fellow women.
On this remarkable success, Neha Barjatya, Chief Internet Saathi, Google India said, “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”.
With this training, some of the women have gone ahead and started their own micro-business (stitching, honey bee farming, and beauty parlors), many others are empowering their families and communities with new skills to enhance their livelihood.
Google also stated, Three in 10 Saathis and two in 10 beneficiaries have set up some form of business. This, in turn, has provided economic growth, with the business often earning between Rs. 3,000-Rs. 5,000 every month.
Neha Barjatya also added, Then there are those who are driving awareness for issues like girl child education, menstrual hygiene and more.
In Punjab, the program will cover around 5,000 villages. In Odisha, it will cover over 16,000 villages.
On this new project, Raman Kalyanakrishnan, Head - Strategy, Tata Trusts said, “For inclusive growth and societal progress, it is imperative that women in rural India are provided with adequate opportunities and knowledge. This has been made possible through the Internet Saathi program”.
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% 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.
The study also showed, "Nine in 10 women beneficiaries believe in a woman's right to express herself and earn a living for her family while seven in 10 women who attended the training with the Saathis have seen an improvement in their children's education.