Riding on the 'Internet Saathi' programme -- a digital literacy initiative aimed at empowering women in rural India -- Google India on Wednesday announced that it has now reached 1,00,000 villages in the country.
Launched as a pilot in Rajasthan in July 2015 along with Tata Trusts, Google announced plans to scale the programme to cover 300,000 villages across India in December the same year.
"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 at Google, a statement said.
"We are delighted with the progress we have made with the 'Internet Saathi' model and it is remarkable to see the passion of these women learning about the Internet. Internet Saathis are now increasingly seen as change agents in their villages and continue to find more support from the communities and village heads for their work," she added.
In its two-year journey, the initiative has continued to gain momentum and is today live in 10 states in India.
Nearly 25,000 fully-trained 'Internet Saathis' are working everyday in these villages to help women and children learn about the internet.
In total, over 10 million women have gained from the programme so far and have become familiar with the benefits of using the Internet in their daily lives.
Further, on the second-year anniversary of the programme, Google also announced the expansion of the programme in two new states -- Haryana and Bihar.
"In Haryana, the initiative has already started to roll out and will be covering nearly 1,000 villages and in Bihar the programme has kicked off from Ramnagar, Bagaha, Lauria, Manjha and Chakai villages and we will be covering nearly 7,000 villages expanding it further later in the year," the company said in a statement.
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