The Internet, most would agree has proved to be a real boon to the people the world over. It has truly made the world a global village and while it has helped increase connectivity and work flow in the urban areas, it has helped people in the rural areas even more in connecting them to the world that was hitherto closed to them. According to kantar, rural internet penetration has reach 20.26% as per December 2017.
Rural women in India especially, have benefitted a lot with the help of the Internet. Ratan Tata started the digital initiative called Internet Saathi to increase the penetration of the internet to women in the rural areas. Working with Google, the Tatas have managed to use the Internet to educate women in these areas. In fact, these women are now utilizing the internet to create an avenue to earn income.
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Sanju Devi, who is a 40 year old artist who makes handicrafts in Bihar uses technology to increase her income with the help of the chat app WhatsApp. She sends pictures of her work to clients based in India and abroad. It has actually helped her increase her reach in terms of customers and she has also been able to become a successful entrepreneur, which would have not been possible without the help of the Internet and digital technology.
Many programs have been formulated keeping in mind digital learning amongst rural women. Women for Empowerment and Entrepreneurship is one such platform that helps women become equipped with e-learning. The internet is used to help them with sustainable agriculture and health services. These women have also been able to set up their own shops to supplement the incomes made by their own family.
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The National e-Governance Plan also helps rural entrepreneurs provide services to people in regards to bill payments, land records and more. A digitally literate woman is more likely to make an informed decision when it comes to their family and kids as compared to someone who is not as well-versed. This scheme also provides for the cost of hardware like computers and printers. The process has been made simpler for rural women because the only qualification you need to learn about the Internet is literacy in basic computers.
Certain schemes also help rural women become adept at online banking which allows them to borrow loans at ease and without any hassle for their own businesses.
These are some of the best plans that are helping rural women become empowerd- a necessity if we are to deal with patriarchy right from the grassroot levels. Digital literacy is helping women become independent and help contribute in the GDP of the country as a whole.