Global technology major Google has joined ranks with the Indian trade body association and advocacy group, Nasscom that focuses on the technology industry of India to empower women and aid their entrepreneurial aspirations.
The Nasscom Foundation, with support from Google, on July 13 also announced the inauguration of two call centres that will help in this regard.
“Access to information, coupled with technology, can help create a level playing field for gender equality,” Sapna Chadha, Vice-President, Marketing, Google India & Southeast Asia said while announcing the partnership.
Speaking on the occasion, Chadha said one mission of the company was to make the internet helpful and safer for a billion Indians. “Our universal mission is also to ensure universal access to information. When a large part of the population is held back, that's an issue we take very seriously. There are significant challenges relating to women, who also have had to face a historic divide. During the pandemic, we have seen that the labour participation of women declined. India has one of the worst gender gaps on the internet. Women's internet usage has lagged behind men's by almost 30% on the internet. However, one thing is true, when we give an opportunity to women, they don't just take it for granted, but also embrace the opportunity,” she said.
Called DigiVaani Call Centers, these hubs are aimed at empowering rural women with digital, financial and entrepreneurship skills. Initially, rural women in seven aspirational districts across six states would benefit from dedicated skilling support.
Based out of New Delhi and Lucknow, the Digivaani call centres extend the ongoing Google.org-supported Women Entrepreneurship & Empowerment Program to reach 100,000 rural women in seven districts across six states including Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — via a phone-based programme in digital, financial and entrepreneurship skills free of any charge.
Besides, the call centres will also provide 30,000 women with dedicated access to trained counsellors to help them leverage their skills and further develop entrepreneurship and income generation opportunities. The initiative is being run in collaboration with the Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP).
Nidhi Bhasin, CEO, Nasscom Foundation, said today, there was so much opportunity for women to become entrepreneurs, yet the whole gap was mainly around accessibility relating to technology and information. “This initiative is to make women entrepreneurs in rural areas understand technology, give them access to technology and use it to scale up. The idea is to help them sustain what they are doing and also aid in scaling up. The potential of women entrepreneurs needs to be unlocked for them to be able to create 150-170 million jobs by 2030.”
According to a report by Google and Bain & Company, 13.5-15.7 million women-owned enterprises make up 20% of all the enterprises in the country. Participation of women in entrepreneurship can generate 150-170 million jobs in India, which is more than 25% of the new jobs required for the entire working age population by 2030, says the report.
Highlighting the lack of awareness among women, Anna Roy, Senior Advisor, NITI Aayog, said a considerable number of women in India lacked awareness and substantial means to sustain or start their businesses as they were not equipped with basic resources. The DigiVaani call centres would fill an important gap in this direction. Roy further stressed that there was a need for collaboration and integration among various bodies working towards the cause of skills promotion among the masses.