Smartphone cost a barrier for rural women accessing internet: Google study
On an average, 25% women continue to use the internet after learning techniques, it said after a study in five states.india Updated: Aug 05, 2017 19:02 IST
A Google study found that the cost of the smartphones is the biggest barrier for rural Indian women from accessing the internet.
On an average, 25% women continue to use the internet after being trained in various techniques, it said.
The study conducted in five states, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat and Jharkhand, showed that at 35%, Gujarat has the highest percentage of women continuing to use the internet after attending the programme. At 17%, Rajasthan ranked the lowest in the list.
Almost 90% of the women who attended the training now have a better understanding of internet, according to Google.
However, after training was over, half of the women could not afford to buy the phone yet, the study found.
Google has been holding learning courses for women in 10 states, the other five being Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
The women learned from switching the smartphone on to searching for design of Bollywood actress’s blouse and selling the same at premium to rural folks, hiring a car on e-commerce portal for her husband for taxi usage, purchasing a TV online, taking and sharing photos on social media, learning micro-farming techniques and searching for the nearest hospital.
As many as 25,000 Internet Saathis (companions) trained by Google are working across one lakh villages in 10 states to help women and children become familiar with the benefits of using internet in their daily lives, Google officials said.
“From being afraid to touch a smartphone, worried that they will spoil it, to now demanding services that can help them get more from the Internet — women in rural India have come a long way,” Sapna Chadha, director (marketing), South East Asia and India, Google, said adding that rural India is 70% of India’s population, so it is not a community that you can just ignore.
“Even as India has taken the lead to become the fastest growing internet user market in the world, India’s Internet is still dominated by male users with 1:10 ratio.
“The digital gender divide is even wider in rural India where digital literacy amongst women continues to be a challenge, this combined with socio-economic challenges are the major barriers that prevent women from using the internet,” Chadha said.