Even in 2017, using internet is still considered a luxury in some parts of India. While the scenario is slowly changing, the percentage female internet users are very low. The digital gender divide is even wider in rural where women hardly have any rights. However, Google India wanted to change this male-female ratio of internet users.
This is why it introduced the Internet Saathi program in rural India. Launched with a pilot in Rajasthan in July 2015, Google announced our ambitious plans to scale the program, to cover 300,000 villages across India in December 2015. Now, after two years, Google has announced that in partnership with Tata Trusts, the Internet Saathi program is live in over 100,000 villages across ten states in India.
There are currently 25,000 Internet Saathis working every day across these villages, who have helped over 10 million women learn about the internet and how they can use it in their daily lives. 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.
Needless to say, the Internet Saathi program has made quite an impact on the lives of rural women in India. Not only socio-economic but the economic impact is also appreciable. The leading market research company IPSOS has carried out the complete research. Here you can read about the findings in detail.
Following the success of the Internet Saathi program, Google is now rolling it out in two new states; Bihar and Haryana. In Bihar, the program will expand to 7000+ villages while in Haryana, the program will be covering 1000 villages.