We are pretty much married to our phones. And to the Internet. But it’s a sad fact that this is a reality for only a minority of Indian women.
And it’s not just about whether people can “afford” a phone and a data plan - it’s also about the fact that the men in the family - pretty much any family - get access to both first. Which is one of the things that prompted Google India to launch the HWGO
(Helping Women Get Online) initiative - and this year, POPxo is partnering with Google for their #TogetherOnline
To keep our promise to help as many Indian women as we can get online, we went over to the Delhi-based NGO Adharshila Trust
- this fabulous organization works with women from underprivileged backgrounds to provide them with vocational training so that they can become entrepreneurs. And while we taught them how to get online for the very first time, these are the 9 surprising things we learnt about the majority of Indian women and their relationship with the Internet.
1. For them, the Internet is a concept, not a reality
They know the Internet exists, but are not entirely sure what it actually is.
2. Easy access to a mobile phone is not something most Indian women have…
As ubiquitous as the mobile phone is to our
lives, it’s a shocking and unfortunate thing that this is not true for most of our countrywomen. Of the group of 100 women we spoke with, only 2 raised their hands in answer to the question whether they own a cellphone. The rest depend on their fathers and brothers to occasionally lend them theirs.
3. Data is not something that they know about…
But they instinctively grasp the concept of privacy and passwords.
4. They’ve heard of WhatsApp and Facebook, but not Google!
But they are fascinated by the idea of “search” - the fact that they can ask ANY question and get an answer.
5. They don’t have email IDs, but communication is very important to them
The idea that they can contact anyone anywhere, with the right information at hand, is super-exciting.
6. They know about apps, and that they have to download them...
But they don’t know what it actually means. The idea of making voice or video calls using apps like Viber and Skype is completely new.
7. They find videos fascinating…
And how they can learn stuff by watching one. From mehendi designs to how to stitch your own kurta, they loved the fact that they can choose to educate themselves.
8. They crave the ease of doing things online…
They love the idea of travel! We were asked multiple times about how to book train and air tickets online.
9. They are politically engaged...
When asked what they want to search about, the first thing we got was Narendra Modi!
These women, along with so many others, would love to “get online” but they have no idea what it means.
It’s out of their reach as they have almost zero access to a mobile phone or computer. We came away feeling helpless - there is an entire generation of young women who want to engage with the wider world - but can’t. If we could wave a magic wand, we would give them all a mobile phone. This one act will further the cause of women’s empowerment like no other!
MUST-READ: #TogetherOnline: What You Can Do to Change Someone’s Life
MUST-READ: Do You Actually Remember a Time Before the Internet? We Don’t!