For too long, women have been excluded from access to technology.
Literacy, affordability, and society have all contributed to a global gender digital gap, with men 21 percent more likely to be online than women. In India, this divide is wider with women’s internet use lagging behind men’s by as much as over 30 per cent.
Therefore, for millions of women, getting access to the internet is a step towards inclusion into a more equitable world where helpful and relevant information opens gateways to opportunity. In fact, a joint study we did points out that when women get access to the internet, they utilize it for avenues for transformation and growth.
But access is just the beginning; it is information that is empowering. And that’s why we, at Google, are committed to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
In India, in 2015, we began the journey to bring more women online with the Internet Saathi program which trained approximately 30 Million rural women across 300,000 villages of the country in basic digital literacy. And we are committed to supporting 1 million women in their entrepreneurship journeys with WomenWill.
Even as connectivity gaps close, there is a need to prioritize creating a more helpful internet for women. Because getting online is not enough, we must strive to bridge the significant digital divide in internet usage among men and women. Our goal is to build inclusive products that encourage women to use the internet with convenience and confidence, and empower them with information.
Today, on International Women’s Day, we are encouraging women to break information barriers, overcome bias, and fulfill their passions to move forward, by simply using their voice.
As women discover the power of information, they also seize opportunities to build, create, and innovate on digital – as entrepreneurs, creators, and developers. We are committed to support this community of women in their journeys through our products and platforms and help them achieve their goals through mentoring programs and community building. Their example encourages many others to also reap the benefits that technology can provide.
Today, we’re shining the spotlight on some of these role models of change with the belief that millions of others too will follow.
YouTube creators transforming their passions into professions
A creator with a unique idea can have a domino effect on the world around them, like Malar who is helping native Tamil speakers learn English and achieve their aspirations.
Undeterred in the face of financial constraints that threatened to derail her education, Malar earned a Master of Arts degree and began teaching English. Recognizing that developing fluency in English was vital for many of her students seeking better opportunities, she launched her YouTube channel, Kaizen English a decade later. Today, her engaging content and simplified learning techniques are helping homemakers gain more confidence and young professionals to ace job interviews. Not only is Malar a successful entrepreneur with a flourishing business, but she is also helping open new doors of opportunity for thousands of her subscribers and students.
Also take for instance, Anukriti Sharma, who has always been empathetic to the plight of animals. Recognizing the dearth of knowledge about healing and post-recovery care of animals, she launched her own YouTube channel to share experiences with like-minded animal lovers. Today, not only have her videos raised awareness about how to care for pets and stray animals, but has also inspired more people to rescue animals. Anukriti plows back the revenues she earns from her channel to further aid animal rescue efforts.
Android developers building for India, and the world
Many women in India have the passion to thrive professionally, but lack the opportunity and skills. With this in mind, IIITA graduate Ayushi Sinha leveraged her engineering capabilities to build Alippo Learning, a live upskilling platform for Indian women to learn, set up, and grow their home businesses. Today, Alippo Learning has built an online community of over 300,000 women mastering new skills, and aims to empower millions more across the country through its Android app.
“Women as a community are largely underserved and fragmented. There is a dire need for structured platforms to upskill and empower them to build a better tomorrow for themselves. Our vision is to create 10 million micro women entrepreneurs in India,” says Ayushi.
Co-Founder, Alippo Learning
Also breaking the bias is Hyderabad-based Renuka Jallapuram, CEO of game studio Flying Caps Technologies. “My dream is to build one of India's largest gaming companies, from the idea stage to a multi-million dollar business,” says Renuka. Starting off as a software developer, Renuka turned to mobile gaming aiming to build engaging games that will be played by scores of people across the world. Today, her most successful game, Slink.io, has received great interest from users globally, with over 50 million downloads on Google Play.
“We need more female game developers. A significant portion of Asia’s gaming population are now women, which makes it the perfect opportunity for female game developers to develop, thrive, and change the game, literally!” adds Renuka. We couldn’t agree more.
CEO, Flying Caps Technologies
Unlocking entrepreneurship with digital skilling
Sudesh Sharma, based in Hisar (Haryana), had been running a skilling center for young girls and women in tailoring and beauty services for some time. Sudesh had always wanted to expand the center’s presence to reach more women in the community and in the neighbouring villages. As part of the WomenWill program, Sudesh learnt the digital skills she needed to provide these classes online as well as promote them to new learners. This has resulted in a 4X income increase in her monthly income. Today, Sudesh has expanded the footprint of her skilling centers and added 11 franchises across the State.
‘’Today, girls can achieve whatever they want to, they can become teachers, pilots and truly reach great heights. Many of the young girls who have passed out from my center are working independently now. I too have a young daughter and I want to provide her with the best education so all her dreams may come true,” says Sudesh.’
Starting from homebased pickle-making, sisters Aparna and Shravya, based in Tenali, Andhra Pradesh, took their business global by using online tools for entrepreneurs. Their digital journey started with a simple website, and today, their company Sitara Foods caters to hundreds of regular customers every month across 160+ countries. Also now present in modern retail stores, the business employs 50+ people, and provides income opportunities to elderly women from their villages to help them with a sustainable income.
Supporting organisations to create community impact
Solving big problems requires collective action, and community organizations serve a crucial role in mobilizing lasting real-world change.
In India, Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, supports the efforts of organizations that enable women and girls who face high risks of marginalization to tap into their potential and make their way forward. As part of Google.org’s $25 Million Impact Challenge for Women and Girls launched last year to support nonprofits and social impact organizations in countering the pandemic’s gender-regressive effects on women and girls, Samhita - CGF, Pratham Education Foundation, and SwaTaleem Foundation have been selected for a total grant funding of $2.5 million (about Rs 18.5 crore). In the last year, Google.org has also provided grant support to ARMMAN to upskill 180,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and 40,000 Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) in 15 Indian states, and to NASSCOM Foundation to equip 100,000 women agri workers with digital and financial literacy in six Indian states.
As India moves forward on its trajectory towards becoming a truly digital-first economy, we are committed to enabling women to benefit from this transformation and help build a more inclusive digital world.