Building on its longstanding commitment to bring the benefits of the internet to everyone, Google announced a series of efforts to support the economic empowerment of women at a virtual edition of Google for India event called Women Will on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
The event also marked the completion of the joint effort with Tata Trusts to empower women across rural India with digital literacy skills and bridge the digital gender divide with the Internet Saathi programme. Launched in 2015 by Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, the programme was designed to impart digital literacy training to women across 300,000 villages in India. Over six years, this pan-India effort has benefitted over 30 million women across India through training provided by over 80,000 Internet Saathis.
Speaking at the event, Sundar Pichai said, “The success of the Internet Saathi programme has shown how digital access and digital literacy can help women to reach their full potential and improve their livelihoods. When women have equal access to opportunity, we all benefit from their perspectives, creativity and their expertise, and this is true all over the world. Yet, when it comes to accessing opportunity, deep inequalities persist. Building on the Internet Saathi programme success, we’re making a new commitment to help one million women in rural villaes in India to become entrepreneurs through business tutorials, tools, and mentorship.”
He also announced a global Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls, under which Google.org will provide US$25 million in grants to nonprofits and social enterprises in India and around the world that are doing important work to help women and girls reach their full potential. “Women are almost twice as likely to lose their jobs during the pandemic and an estimated 20 million girls are at risk of not returning to school. We have the opportunity to build a future that is more equal and more inclusive—and we must take it,” he added.
Commenting on Tata Trusts’ partnership with Google, Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts, said, “We look upon the success of the Internet Saathis partnership we have had with Google with great satisfaction. Together, we embarked on training women trainers to familiarise other women on how to utilise the internet, all in the rural environment, that would otherwise never take place. In bringing today’s technology, and perhaps tomorrow’s technology, to bear for the benefit of rural women is a great move forward. Over time, these efforts will ensure that the true value of the internet can come into the fore. I would like to congratulate the two teams that have worked together to help make this happen.”
In a special address at the event, Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development, Government of India, said, “I am of the firm belief that women can act as great enablers of our growth story, creating tectonic shifts in society. Over the last few years, under Jan Dhan Yojana, we have supported 220 million women to become financially independent. Under the Mudra Yojana, we have dedicated 27 crore worth of funds, accessed by 70 percent women. The time now, especially with such great leaps in technology, is ripe for India and other emerging economies to ensure that a level playing field is created for the economic advancement of women. I am happy to learn about Google’s efforts and commitment to enable women entrepreneurs in India as these will create pathways for the socio-economic advancement of women.”
Calling for bold, innovative ideas from India and around the world to advance the economic empowerment of women and girls, Jacquelline Fuller, VP, Google and President of Google.org, said, “The progress on gender has been uneven, fragile, frustratingly slow, and equality is a long way off. Post COVID-19, it is both a moral, societal and economic imperative to take immediate action to counter the pandemic’s gender-regressive effects. It is estimated that doing so would result in US$13 trillion in global GDP gains by 2030. Job cuts, income loss, and lack of access to education will prevent women and girls’ economic advancement, particularly those from underserved communities, for generations to come. These alarming realities require swift and decisive action.”
Emphasising the need for an enabling ecosystem for efforts towards gender equity, Sanjay Gupta, Vice President & Country Head, Google India said, “In the past few decades, we have witnessed some of the traditional barriers against women’s access to education, health, politics, and the economy weakening. But more needs to be done by everyone, and urgently. The Internet Saathi programme demonstrated the close relationship between gender equity, economic participation, and digital inclusion, and therefore, I am very pleased that we are taking on this new challenge of enabling one million women entrepreneurs in rural India. We are excited to build this new ecosystem of entrepreneurship enablers to help narrow the gender gap.”
Supporting one million women entrepreneurs in rural India
Based on learnings from the Internet Saathi programme, and to continue to support women in rural India to pursue their ambitions and improve their livelihoods through entrepreneurship, Google has launched the Women Will web platform. This will be complemented by community support, mentorship and accelerator programmes for rural women entrepreneurs.
Available in English and Hindi, the Women Will platform is designed especially for women aspiring to explore entrepreneurship. Through a “how to” curriculum on turning an interest into a business, managing an enterprise, and promoting it for growth, the platform will provide guidance and support to women who want to convert an existing hobby or talent such as tailoring, beauty services, home tuition, food processing, among other related activities into some income. To begin with, Google will work with 2,000 Internet Saathis to help other women gain from this resource and start on their entrepreneurial journey.
Supporting 100,000 women agri-workers with NASSCOM Foundation
To support women with access to skills they need for the future, Google.org is committing a US$500,000 grant to NASSCOM Foundation. WIth this grant support, NASSCOM Foundation will reach 100,000 women agri workers with digital and financial literacy training in the six states of Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. NASSCOM Foundation will also set up a helpline where the women agri workers will be able to call and receive further counselling on their entrepreneurship related queries.
US$25 million Google.org Global Impact Challenge for Women & Girls
Google.org will provide US$25 million in overall funding to nonprofits and social organisations in India and around the world that are working to advance women and girls’ economic empowerment and create pathways to prosperity. Selected Impact Challenge grantees will also receive mentoring from Googlers, Ad Grants, and additional support to bring their ideas to life.
Feature enablements on Search and Maps for women entrepreneurs
For many entrepreneurs, Search and Maps are their storefront. In order to make it easier for people to support women-led businesses, Google will enable search in English for “women-led” — “women-led restaurants,” “women-led clothing stores” and more — on Google Search and Maps. This is based on an opt-in feature on Google My Business where women-led businesses can identify as such on their Business Profiles. This will not only enhance the online presence of hundreds of women-owned businesses but customers can easily extend their support by purchasing from them, leaving a great review, and sharing their Business Profile.
GPay Business Pages for Homepreneurs
To empower homepreneurs, the vast majority of whom are women, Google Pay announced the launch of Business Pages which enable them to create easy catalogues of their products and services and direct people to them through a unique URL. Interested buyers can chat with the homepreneur about their order and pay within the chat based interface on Google Pay.
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