Google India plans to get 50 million women in India using the Internet within one year through a new initiative that aims to bridge the gender digital divide by providing women with easier access to technology, the company said.
With more than 200 million Internet users in the country and growing, India is set to overtake the United States as the world’s second largest market after China. Yet only one-third of India’s online users are women.
The “Helping women get online” initiative is largely centred around its website www.hwgo.com, which provides step-by-step information – in both Hindi and English – on the basics of how to use a computer and access the Web.
The initiative involves setting up easy Internet access points for women across the country and a toll-free helpline to guide new users.
Google India said its first priority was to create awareness about the benefits of the Internet for women through a mass media campaign.
“Lack of easy access to Internet, lack of knowledge on how to use the Internet and its relevance in their daily lives are the biggest barriers for women to get online. ‘Helping women get online’ is an initiative that aims to overcome these barriers and empower women to improve their lives,” Google India’s Managing Director Rajan Anandan said in a statement on Wednesday.
“With this initiative we are aiming to help 50 million additional women to get online by end of 2014 by undertaking a variety of initiatives across India.”
The Internet empowers people by allowing individuals to express their views freely, expand their knowledge and community, and provide education and employment. It also results in increased social and economic development, experts say.
More knowledgeable women in society will translate into lower maternal and infant mortality rates, less child malnutrition and increased employment and economic growth.