Google India has launched an ambitious initiative to empower women in India. This initiative aims to bring 50 million Indian women online by the end of 2014. On August 20th 2013, Mark Zuckerberg released a draft plan titled “Is Connectivity a Human Right?” that explained in depth how to make world more open and connected. Exactly three months later, now, Google India comes up with this commendable initiative to make women aware the benefits of Internet and how it could uplift their lives and their families.
The Digital Divide
As per the IAMAI report, the number of Internet users in India has reached 205 million this October. We are all set to overtake the United States as the second largest country in the world after China in online penetration. Yet, only 30% of the women users in India have access to Internet which is a stark contrast. Google aims to decrease this disparity by bringing 50 million women users online by the end of 2014. But, that is definitely not going to be a cakewalk taking into account the online penetration in rural India. In rural India, there were 68 million internet users in October and it is estimated to reach 72 million by December 2013, says the IAMAI report. Also, 40% of the internet users use community service centers and cyber cafes in rural India. This clearly indicates the lack of access points to surf the web in rural India.
Reference : I-cube report, Nov 2013
About the initiative
‘Help Women Get Online’ is a website launched by Google to kick-start this campaign. Google has also planned for a mass media campaign including a TV commercial to promote its exclusively designed website. The website has a number of step-by-step guides on various topics including computer basics, internet skills, chat & email and watching videos online. Each topic has different chapters ranging from how to start and shut down your computer, how to create an e-mail account and of course, how to download Chrome. In addition, the website also offers contents on various interests of women such as childcare tips, household tips, beauty tips and cooking/recipes tips. It also provides assistance through toll free helpline at 1800-41-999-77. All learning materials and video tutorials are available both in Hindi and English.
Image : A screenshot of HWGO website
To accomplish the target, Google has joined hands with a number of partners like HUL, Johnson & Johnson, Axis Bank and Babyoye. For example, Shaadi.com is the partner to offer Relationship Tips. So, whenever someone clicks on Relationship Tips, they are bound to visit Shaadi.com which is nothing but more visibility for the partner’s website. Interestingly, Google also has a “Partner with us” option in the website to invite brands to partner with Google to provide internet access points across the country and help spread awareness about the campaign.
All we can do is educate the women in our family and our neighborhood about the basics of Internet. That would be one of the first steps to empower women and for an inclusive growth in the digital world.