‘Internet Saathi’ to digitally empower one lakh women in Bengal

Kolkata : ‘Internet Saathi’, a joint digital literacy programme of Google India and Tata Trust, is all set to roll out across 400 villages and reach one lakh women in Purulia district in West Bengal in the next few months.

“In the next few months, we will see the project roll out across 400 villages and reach one lakh women in Purulia,” said Sapna Chadha, head of marketing, Google India, at the launch of the Bengal leg here on Wednesday.

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Under the programme, women are trained to learn and explore various uses and benefits of the Internet. After covering nine states, the programme will now be made available in West Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura.

Women will be selected and trained to become adept in using the Internet on smartphones and tablet devices. These women will further coach other women in their villages and neighbouring hamlets.

“This has a ripple effect among the community and is a sustained, long-term effort through which these women get comfortable in using a smartphone. They use it to access services such as healthcare, agriculture and educational resources etc.,” Ganesh Neelam, Head-Innovation at the Tata Trust, said.

Neelam said the challenges include cutting across the language and cultural barriers and mobile connectivity in remote villages.

Indumati Mahato, hailing from West Bengal’s Purulia district, said she did not shy away anymore from going online, courtesy the ‘Internet Saathi’ which helped her use the Internet on her smartphone and ensure a safe delivery of a woman in her village.

“At first, many questioned why they should use Internet and what benefit it will bring us. When a pregnant woman in our village found it difficult to access a healthcare centre to deliver the child, I used the Internet to find out a suitable place in a neighbouring district in Jharkhand. People have now started to realise how the Internet can help us,” said Mahato, who earns Rs.1,000 per month as remuneration under the initiative.