Women's Day: Google to support 1 million women entrepreneurs in rural India; Sundar Pichai, Ratan Tata, Smriti Irani part of virtual event
On International Women's Day 2021, Googlehas announced a series of efforts to support the economic empowerment of women at the virtually held Google for India event called ‘Women Will’.
“Women are almost twice as likely to lose their jobs during the pandemic, and an estimated 20 million girls are at risk of not returning to school. We have the opportunity to build a future that is more equal and more inclusive—and we must take it,” announced Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai.
The day also marks six successful years of the tech giant's Internet Saathi programme, a joint effort with Tata Trusts, that aimed to empower women across rural India with digital literacy skills and bridge the digital gender divide.
This pan-India effort has benefitted over 30 million women across India through training provided by over 80,000 Internet Saathis
Speaking at the event, Pichai said, “The success of the Internet Saathi program has shown how digital access and digital literacy can help women to reach their full potential and improve their livelihoods. When women have equal access to opportunity, we all benefit from their perspectives, creativity and their expertise, and this is true all over the world."
Industrialist and Chairman Emeritus of Tata Trust, Ratan Tata, commented on Tata Trusts’ partnership with Google, saying, “In bringing today's technology, and perhaps tomorrow's technology, to bear for the benefit of rural women is a great move forward. Over time, these efforts will ensure that the true value of the internet can come into the fore. I would like to congratulate the two teams that have worked together to help make this happen.”
"Building on the Internet Saathi program success, we’re making a new commitment to help 1 million women in rural villages in India to become entrepreneurs through business tutorials, tools, and mentorship," Pichai further said, introducing a global ‘Google.orgImpact Challenge for Women and Girls’.
Under this initiative, Google.org will provide $25 million in grants to non-profits and social enterprises that are helping women and girls reach their full potential in India and around the world.
Vice President of Google and President for Google.org, Jacqueline Fuller, shared more details on the project, and commented, “The progress on gender has been uneven, fragile, frustratingly slow, and equality is a long way off. Post COVID-19, it is both a moral, societal and economic imperative to take immediate action to counter the pandemic’s gender-regressive effects. It is estimated that doing so would result in $13 trillion in global GDP gains by 2030.”
To continue their support for rural women, Google launched the Women Will platform, designed especially for women aspiring to explore entrepreneurship. It is available in English and Hindi and provides guidance to women who want to convert an existing hobby or talent such as tailoring, beauty services, home tuition, food processing, etc. into some income.
Emphasising the need for an enabling ecosystem for efforts towards gender equity, Sanjay Gupta, Vice President and Country Head, Google India, said “In the past few decades, we have witnessed some of the traditional barriers against women’s access to education, health, politics, and the economy weakening. But more needs to be done by everyone, and urgently. We are excited to build this new ecosystem of entrepreneurship enablers to help narrow the gender gap.”
In addition, to make it easier for people to support women-led businesses, Google will enable search in English for “women-led” — “women-led restaurants,” “women-led clothing stores” and more — on Google Search and Maps.
In a special address, concluding the event, Minister of Women and Child Development, Government of India, Smriti Irani said, “I am of the firm belief, as is our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, that women can act as great enablers of our growth story, creating tectonic shifts in society. I am happy to learn about Google’s efforts and commitment to enable women entrepreneurs in India as these will create pathways for the socio-economic advancement of women.”